The William Blake Archive

The William Blake Archive is pleased to provide the following information about its Web site, in accordance with the recommendations of the MLA's Committee on Information Technology (see that body's Minimal Guidelines for Authors of Web Pages, which suggests standards for online documentation of Web sites "intended for use by students, teachers, and scholars in the modern languages").

All of this information is also (and has long been) available elsewhere on our site, but we repeat it here, in the concise format suggested by the committee, for the convenience of users.


A hypermedia archive sponsored by the Library of Congress and supported by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With past support from the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, the Getty Grant Program, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the Preservation and Access Division of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sun Microsystems, and Inso Corporation.


A free site on the World Wide Web since 1996, the Blake Archive was conceived as an international public resource that would provide unified access to major works of visual and literary art that are highly disparate, widely dispersed, and more and more often severely restricted as a result of their value, rarity, and extreme fragility. A growing number of contributors have given the Archive permission to include thousands of Blake's images and texts without fees. The Archive contains searchable and scalable electronic editions of copies of Blake's illuminated books in the context of full, up-to-date bibliographic information about each image, carefully edited transcriptions of all texts, detailed descriptions of all images, and extensive bibliographies. Also included are examples of Blake's other work—commercial book illustrations, separate prints, drawings and paintings, and manuscripts—as well as a searchable electronic version of David V. Erdman's Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, the standard printed edition for reference.

Contact Information

The editors and project manager may be reached at

Software Considerations

The Blake Archive is best accessed using the latest versions of Web browsers, and a high-resolution monitor set to gamma 1.8 and a white point of 5000K (as these are the settings used in color-correcting the inline and enlarged images in the Archive).

Full documentation of Known Bugs and Hazards is available here.

Citation and Permissions

To identify the Archive as the source of information that you are using in a paper, article, or book, we ask that you include the complete title of the Archive, its URL, and the date you accessed it, along with the other relevant documentation. Here is an example:
Blake, William. The Book of Thel, copy F, pl. 2. The William Blake Archive. Ed. Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi. 13 November 1997 <>.

The latest editions of standard reference works on scholarly style, such as The MLA Style Manual and The Chicago Manual of Style, offer useful advice on citing electronic sources.

To request permission to reproduce Archive materials please follow these instructions. We can only grant permission to reproduce Archive materials; please do not contact us regarding materials not present in the Archive.

Publication (print or electronic) or commercial use of any of the copyrighted materials without direct authorization from the copyright holders is strictly prohibited. The copying of materials from the Blake Archive is permitted only under the fair-use provisions of copyright law.

Copyright Declaration

by Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, all rights reserved. Items in the Archive may be shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law. Redistribution or republication on other terms, in any medium, requires express written consent from the editors. Permission to reproduce the graphic images in this archive has been granted by the owners of the originals for this publication only.

Site Configuration

All significant textual data in the Archive—Blake's actual poetry and prose, as well as the editors' bibliographic commentary and illustration descriptions—are encoded using the eXtensible Markup Language (XML). XML is not a programming language; it is a descriptive meta-language used to encode (or "tag") textual data in such a way that it will remain usable even as platforms and file formats change over time. By explicitly describing textual data according to a recognized W3C standard, XML frees the Archive from reliance on the vicissitudes of proprietary software packages.

You encounter HTML in our "top-level" pages (such as the Archive home page, project updates, and this document).

The Archive is organized hierarchically; at its top level are collections grouped by type, such as illuminated books, commercial book illustrations, drawings and sketches, and so forth. As you work your way down through these menus, your choices become more specific: illuminated books, for example, are indexed by title, and titles are indexed by particular copies of the book; particular copies are then indexed by plate. Plates are presented on what we refer to as an Object View screen, the most basic browsable unit in the Archive, corresponding to a discrete physical artifact such as a single plate in an illuminated book or a drawing or a single manuscript page.

Complete help documentation for the Archive is available here.


The William Blake Archive is edited by Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi. A summary of their scholarly qualifications may be found here.

Complete credits for all project staff, past and present, may be found here.

Blake Archive Homepage