History

Cover story: O Happy day

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7276.1597 (Published 23 December 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1597
  1. Tony Delamothe (tdelamothe@bmj.com), web editor
  1. bmj.com

We chose Blake's colour printed engraving for the cover as an image of transcendent happiness. It was produced by someone who led “a life of the deepest obscurity and occasional suffering” but whose reputation is currently soaring.1 The largest ever exhibition of Blake's works can be seen at Tate Britain, London, until February, after which it moves to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


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Blake's life and times

“Shall I call him Artist or Genius—or Mystic—or Madman? Probably he is all,” wrote a contemporary of Blake two years before his death in 1827.2 Since then the list of terms has been augmented with proto-Marxist, noble savage, psychedelic guru, ecologist, and founder of English anarchism.3 Whatever your needs for a countercultural precedent, Blake is your man.

In his writings and pictures there is never any doubt about which side Blake was on: he was for sexual and racial equality and against capital, taxes, empire, laws, …

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