Index Bibliography

America a Prophecy

Currently Available:

America a Prophecy, copy E, 1793 (Library of Congress): electronic edition
America a Prophecy, copy F, 1793 (British Museum): electronic edition
America a Prophecy, copy I, 1793 (Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery): electronic edition
America a Prophecy, copy A, 1795 (Morgan Library and Museum): electronic edition
America a Prophecy, copy B, 1795 (Morgan Library and Museum): electronic edition
America a Prophecy, copy M, c. 1807 (Yale Center for British Art): electronic edition
America a Prophecy, copy O, 1821 (Fitzwilliam Museum): electronic edition

Dates are the probable dates of printing.

In the first of his "Continental Prophecies" (see also Europe and The Song of Los), Blake explores the radical paradigms of political repression and revolt through a highly imaginative treatment of the American Revolution. While historical figures such as Washington and Paine appear, much of the symbolic and thematic weight is placed on Blake's own invented mythological figures, including "Albions Angel" and "Londons Guardian" (forces of the British government), Urizen (the god of restrictive reason and the origin of political repression), and fiery Orc (the spirit of revolt). The American Revolution is viewed as a harbinger of universal revolution, epistemological as much as political.

In 1793, Blake etched in relief, with considerable white-line work in some designs, and first printed twenty-three plates for America. These include eighteen major text and design plates used in all complete copies, a small plate (e) bearing the word "Preludium" and printed above the design on plate 3, and four plates (a-d) never published, perhaps because of potentially actionable references to "the King" and "George." The first printing consisted of proof copy a (plates 1, 4, 11, 12, 15, a-c in black, dark green, and dark blue inks), copies E-G, I, K, L in greenish black or dark olive inks, and copies C, D, H, R in bluish black and blue green inks (there is no copy designated as "J"). There are three later printings: 1795 (copies A, B), c. 1807 (copy M), and 1821 (copy O). Copies N, P, and Q are posthumous.

Related Works

Related works currently available in the William Blake Archive appear as links below. Works not currently available appear as plain text.

All Known Copies

This list includes untraced copies known only from sales catalogues.
  • Copy C, 1793
    Houghton Library
    Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Copy D, 1793
    Princeton University Library
    Princeton, New Jersey
  • Copy E, 1793
    Rosenwald Collection, Library of Congress
    Washington D.C.
  • Copy F, 1793
    British Museum, Dept. of Prints and Drawings
    London
  • Copy G, 1793
    Lord Cunliffe
  • Copy H, 1793
    British Museum, Dept. of Prints and Drawings
    London
  • Copy I, 1793
    Huntington Library and Art Gallery
    San Marino, California
  • Copy K, 1793
    Beinecke Library
    Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Copy L, 1793
    Berg Collection, New York Public Library
    New York City
  • Copy R, 1793
    Private Collection
  • Copy S, possibly 1794 or later
    Untraced
  • Copy A, 1795
    Morgan Library and Museum
    New York City
  • Copy M, c. 1807
    Yale Center for British Art
    Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Copy N, c. 1832
    Auckland Public Library
    Auckland, New Zealand
  • Copy P, c. 1832
    Fitzwilliam Museum
    Cambridge, England
  • Copy Q, c. 1832
    Princeton University Library
    Princeton, New Jersey

All Known Related Drawings
  • Pastoral Scene
    Monochrome wash drawing, c. 1780-85. Butlin 142.
    British Museum
    London
  • Blake's Notebook, pages 71, 75
    Pencil sketches, c. 1790-93. Butlin 201.71, 75.
    British Library
    London
  • Los and Orc
    Water color, c. 1792-93. Butlin 255.
    Tate Collection at Tate Britain
    London
  • Sketch for "For Children: The Gates of Paradise" plate 15: Death's Door (?)
    Pencil sketch, c. 1793. Butlin 131 verso.
    Hornby Library
    Liverpool City Libraries, Liverpool, England
  • A Figure Bending Over a Corpse in the Rain, with Further Bodies Behind, Possibly for the Title-Page of "America"
    Pencil sketch, c. 1793. Butlin 223 recto.
    British Museum
    London
  • Sketch for a Title-Page, Probably First Idea for "America"
    Pencil sketch, c. 1793. Butlin 223A recto.
    British Museum
    London
  • Los, Orc and Enitharmon (?), Perhaps for the "Preludium" to "America"
    Pencil sketch, c. 1793. Butlin 224.
    British Museum
    London
  • Sketches for "America" and Other Books
    Pencil sketches, c. 1793. Butlin 226.
    Estate of Charles A. Ryskamp
    New York City
  • Five Sketches for "America" and Other Works
    Pencil sketches, c. 1793. Butlin 227.
    Untraced
  • A Youth Seated on the Ground, Perhaps for "America" plate 10
    Pencil sketch, c. 1793 (?). Butlin 228 recto.
    Fitzwilliam Museum
    Cambridge, England
  • Various Personifications, a Death Bed and Other Drawings
    Pencil sketches, c. 1793-94. Butlin 214 recto and verso.
    Houghton Library
    Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • "The Dead Bad-Doers" or "The Dead Ardours"
    Pencil sketch, c. 1794-96 (?). Butlin 232 recto.
    Collection of Robert N. Essick
    Altadena, California
  • Frontispiece to Night the First of The Four Zoas
    Pencil sketch, c. 1797-1807. Butlin 337.2.
    British Library
    London
  • Studies for Plate 11 of The Grave, "Death's Door"
    Pencil sketches, c. 1805. Butlin 632 recto and verso.
    Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Nude Studies: Two Men Throwing Somersaults, Etc.
    Pencil Sketches, c. 1810 (?). Butlin 595 verso.
    Private Collection
    Great Britain
  • The Chaining of Orc
    Pencil sketch, c. 1812. Butlin 584.
    British Museum
    London