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Urgent appeal to save William Blake’s cottage

Published 3 November 2014

The country has until 28 November to donate, if the Blake Society is to transform his seaside cottage into a permanent home for the artist-poet.

  • An urgent fundraising appeal has been launched to save the home of William Blake for the public. The visionary poet and painter produced his most famous work – the hymn Jerusalem (c.1804) – within the walls of his cottage in the seaside village of Felpham, West Sussex, and the property that has now gone up for sale.

    The Blake Society has until 28 November to raise £520,000 to purchase the cottage; otherwise Blake’s home will be sold to a private bidder. If it can raise the funds, the Society will ensure the cottage becomes a permanent place of homage to Blake’s extraordinary creativity, a centre that, in its words, “welcomes visitors, poets, artists and scholars to continue Blake’s legacy, creating new work that would honour his claim, ‘The Imagination is not a State: it is The Human Existence itself’.”

  • William Blake’s watercolour of his home, illustrated in the artist’s epic poem Milton (1804-10) that was produced in the cottage

    William Blake’s watercolour of his home, illustrated in the artist’s epic poem Milton (1804-10) that was produced in the cottage

  • William Blake did not receive the acclaim he should have been due in his lifetime. Although his art education was conventional, as a student of the RA Schools, Blake never became a Royal Academician – the fervent tone of his work and his passion for dissent left him on the fringes. Even today, when his words are sung across the nation, and his watercolours and prints widely celebrated, there is nowhere one can visit to learn more about the man and his legacy.

  • William Blake’s frontispiece to Milton. The poem’s protagonist was the 17th-century poet John Milton; his famous intention for Paradise Lost (1667), “To justify the ways of God to men”, is inscribed by Blake on the illustration

    William Blake’s frontispiece to Milton. The poem’s protagonist was the 17th-century poet John Milton; his famous intention for Paradise Lost (1667), “To justify the ways of God to men”, is inscribed by Blake on the illustration

  • An imaginative set of rewards are offered to those who donate, including a tote bag sporting one of Blake’s aphorisms, “Incorruptible plastic proves the value of decay” (£35); a map of Blake’s London (£50); and an artwork by Chris Orr RA, Tyger Jugular, a unique ceramic jug that features an underglaze transfer of an image from the Academician’s etching series Life of W. Blake. The campaign has received the backing of figures that include Russell Brand, Philip Pullman, Stephen Fry, Tracy Chevalier, Neil Gaiman and Andrew Motion.

    This is the first time the cottage has gone up for sale since 1928, so time is of the essence – the deadline is this month and it may be decades before it is available again.

    Find out more and donate here.

    Sam Phillips (@SamP_London) is Editor of RA Magazine.

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