Index Bibliography

Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Currently Available:

Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy B, 1789, 1794 (British Museum): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy C, 1789, 1794 (Library of Congress): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy F, 1789, 1794 (Yale Center for British Art): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy E, 1789, 1794, 1795, c. 1832 (Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy A, 1795 (British Museum): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy L, 1795 (Yale Center for British Art): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy N, 1795 (Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy R, c. 1795, c. 1808 (The Fitzwilliam Museum): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy T, 1789, 1794, 1818 (British Museum): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy V, 1821 (Morgan Library and Museum): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy Y, 1825 (Metropolitan Museum of Art): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy Z, 1826 (Library of Congress): electronic edition
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy AA, 1826 (The Fitzwilliam Museum): electronic edition

Dates are the probable dates of printing.

A complete copy of Songs of Innocence and of Experience contains fifty-four plates etched in relief with touches of white-line work in a few designs. Plate a (a tailpiece probably etched in the late 1780s) appears only in copies B-D of the combined Songs; plate b ("A Divine Image") appears only in copy BB of the combined Songs among those printed by Blake. Plates 34-36, 53, and 54 were first published in Innocence but moved to Experience in 1794, 1795, and 1818 respectively.

The printing history of the combined Songs is complicated because Blake printed it while also continuing to print Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience separately, and because some copies of the combined Songs were assembled by collectors or dealers from copies of Innocence and Experience separately issued, while other copies now consist of only one section. The separately issued copies of Innocence are listed under Songs of Innocence, while the few separate and separately issued copies of Experience are listed below. Experience was first printed while it was still a work in progress; seventeen of the plates were color printed in c. 1794 and now make up Songs copies F, G, H, and T1-2. The first copies of the combined Songs were B, C, and D, formed in 1794 from copies of Innocence printed in 1789 and copies of the complete Experience printed in 1794. Combined Songs copy E also consists mostly of impressions from these print runs, but appears to have been assembled or at least recolored c. 1806 for Blake's patron Thomas Butts.

The first copies of the combined Songs in which the two sections were printed together were A and R in 1795. That same year, Blake printed eight sets of Innocence and nine sets of Experience impressions to form Innocence copy N, the "Innocence" section of combined Songs copy J, the "Experience" sections of combined Songs copies J, O, and S, and both sections of combined Songs copies I, L, M, and BB. "Innocence" of combined Songs copy O was once joined with "Experience" of combined Songs copy K, and untraced Innocence copy W was probably once combined with "Experience" of combined Songs copy N. In c. 1802, Blake printed three copies of Innocence (O, R and Y printed as a single copy and later divided into two incomplete copies, and the "Innocence" section of combined Songs copy P), along with two copies of Experience (the "Experience" sections of combined Songs copies P and Q). In c. 1804, he printed another three copies of Innocence (P, Q, and the "Innocence" section of combined Songs copy Q); in c. 1811 he printed two more copies (Innocence copy S and the "Innocence" section of combined Songs copy S).

Between 1818 and 1827, Innocence and Experience were always printed as part of the combined Songs. In c. 1818, Blake printed combined Songs copies T2 and U; in c. 1821, copy V; in 1825, copies W and Y; in 1826, copies Z and AA; and in 1827, copy X. In all but copy V, the plate order is the same, though copy T2 has had plate 49 repositioned and a few Innocence poems replaced with earlier impressions. The plate order in these last copies and in "Innocence" of combined Songs copy S (c. 1811) follows, with minor variations, the plate order of combined Songs copy R, which was Blake's personal copy until he sold it to John Linnell in 1819. The coloring of combined Songs copies K and M is 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
  • Copy D, 1789, 1794
    Private Collection
  • Copy T, c. 1789, c. 1794, c. 1818
    British Museum, Dept. of Prints and Drawings
    London
  • Copy G, c. 1794 (Experience only)
    Fitzwilliam Museum
    Cambridge, England
  • Copy H, c. 1794 (Experience only)
    Maurice Sendak
  • Copy A, 1795
    British Museum, Dept. of Prints and Drawings
    London
  • Copy I, 1795
    Widener Library
    Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Copy J, 1795
    Emma Rothschild
  • Copy K, 1795 (Experience only)
    Morgan Library and Museum
    New York City
  • Copy L, 1795
    Yale Center for British Art
    Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Copy M, 1795
    Beinecke Library
    Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Copy N, 1795 (Experience only)
    Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
    San Marino, California
  • Copy O, 1795
    Houghton Library
    Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Copy BB, 1795
    Private Collection
  • Copy P, c. 1802
    Wormsley Library
    Wormsley, Buckinghamshire, England
  • Copy Q, c. 1804, c. 1802
    Mrs. Seth Dennis
  • Copy S, c. 1811, 1795
    Cincinnati Museum of Art
    Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Copy U, c. 1818
    Princeton University Library
    Princeton, New Jersey
  • Copy W, c. 1825
    King's College
    Cambridge University, Cambridge, England
  • Copy Z, 1826
    Rosenwald Collection, Library of Congress
    Washington D.C.
  • Copy X, c. 1827
    Private Collection
  • Copy a, c. 1832
    British Museum, Dept. of Prints and Drawings
    London
  • Copy b, c. 1832
    Houghton Library
    Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Copy c, c. 1832
    Mrs. William Drysdale
  • Copy d, c. 1832
    Beinecke Library
    Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Copy e, c. 1832
    Morgan Library and Museum
    New York City
  • Copy f, c. 1832
    Untraced
  • Copy g, c. 1832
    Princeton University Library
    Princeton, New Jersey
  • Copy h, c. 1832
    Collection of Robert N. Essick
    Altadena, California
  • Copy i, c. 1832
    Lord Cunliffe
  • Copy j, c. 1832
    Princeton University Library
    Princeton, New Jersey
  • Copy k, c. 1832
    Fitzwilliam Museum
    Cambridge, England
  • Copy l, c. 1832
    Fitzwilliam Museum
    Cambridge, England
  • Copy m, c. 1832
    Fitzwilliam Museum
    Cambridge, England
  • Copy n, c. 1832
    Morgan Library and Museum
    New York City
  • Copy o, c. 1832
    Dispersed
  • Copy p, c. 1832
    Arthur E. Vershbow

All Known Related Drawings
  • Blake's Notebook, pages 15, 21, 43, 54, 55, 57, 65, 74, 89
    Pencil sketches, c. 1790-94. Butlin 201.15, 21, 43, 54, 55, 57, 65, 74, 89.
    British Library
    London
  • Songs of Innocence: Frontispiece
    Water color (?), date unknown. Butlin 215.
    Untraced
  • Songs of Innocence: Introduction
    Water color (?), date unknown. Butlin 216.
    Untraced