Records of the William Blake Bicentenary Celebrations, 1955-1959

Scope and Content

The collection contains papers relating to the administration, fund raising and progress of the events organised by the William Blake Bicentenary Committee. It includes minutes, administrative correspondence, photographs of Blake's paintings, legal agreements regarding publications, and financial documents. Papers providing summaries or texts of tributes to Blake include a typescript copy of the speech given by Professor Vivian de Sola Pinto in Westminster Abbey in November 1957.

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection comprises the papers produced following the decision, in 1955, to commemorate the birth of William Blake on 28 November 1757 with a series of Bicentennial celebrations. The events were organised by a group of Blake enthusiasts who established themselves as an advisory committee. Its members were Professor Anthony Blunt, George Goyder, Sir Geoffrey Keynes, H.M. Margoliouth, Sir Herbert Read, Professor Vivian de Sola Pinto, Kerrison Preston, F. Heming Vaughan and Miss D. M. Vaughan.

The celebrations included a film on Blake's art, the production of a Bible with illustrations by Blake, the unveiling of a bust of Blake in Westminster Abbey, a service in St Paul's, a service in the Church where Blake was christened and an anniversary dinner. In addition, during this period, an attempt was made to save the house in Soho where Blake was born.


Material is divided by form and subject, and listed chronologically within divisions.

Access Information

ACCESS: Accessible to all registered readers.

REPROGRAPHIC: Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Other Finding Aids

NOTE: Copyright on all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

  • In the Reading Room, University of Nottingham Library: Typescript Catalogue, 5 pp
  • At the National Register of Archives, London: Typescript Catalogue, 5 pp

Conditions Governing Use

COPYRIGHT: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email ). The Department will try to assist in identifying copyright owners but the responsibility for copyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the reader.

LANGUAGE: English.

Custodial History

The papers reflect administrative work undertaken on behalf of the committee. They were given to Nottingham University Library in 1991 after the death of the committee's clerical assistant.