William Blake's wife once said of him: "I have very little of Mr. Blake's company; he is always in Paradise". This fascinating and generously illustrated biography of the great English artist, poet, and mystic brings us very much into Blake's company, presenting, often in the words of his contemporaries, everything that is known of his life and times. G.E. Bentley tells us that although Blake struggled with the ways of the world in his youth and early manhood, he was always frustrated that these ways were not his own. Instead he spoke the language of radical religious dissent, standing outside the popular political and social conventions of his time and lamenting the power of Church and State. Blake learned to participate in traditions of vision and piety, to exult in the power of the spirit and in visionary art and literature. He created a new gospel of art, other-worldly and fundamentally spiritual, and in his old age, he exhibited a serenity in poverty and a devotion to the realm of the spirit that was revered by his disciples. Blake's life bears the shape of great art itself, says Bentley. From his youthful vaulting ambitions in painting, engraving, poetry, and music, through his mature flirtation with fortune, to his joyful return to the vision and confidence of his youth, Blake's life provides a pattern of noble self-sacrifice and wise self-understanding that is an inspiration to his generation and to ours.