Sometimes seen as an eccentric figure or lone genius, William Blake (1757-1827) was a poet and artist of boundless imagination, even prompting one 21st century critic to proclaim him ‘far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced’. Considered mad by some contemporaries, he later came to be highly regarded for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. This beautifully illustrated book, published alongside an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (Feb 23-May 19), explores Blake’s relationship with Europe against a backdrop of political turmoil. Responding to revolution and war on the continent, enslavement and exploitation in European colonies and repression and reaction in Britain, Blake produced a body of work which combined criticism of the contemporary world with a vision for universal redemption. By drawing parallels with the ambitions of his artist contemporaries in Europe, the book shows that Blake was not alone in looking to art to build the world anew in the face of shattering political crises.