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Lord Tennyson’s Copy of Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job (1826)


Sibylle Erle

We now know not only that Alfred, Lord Tennyson, owned a copy of William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job, but also that it had pride of place in his collection at Farringford on the Isle of Wight in the early 1860s. According to a list kept at the Tennyson Research Centre in Lincoln, he displayed it on his drawing-room table well before he received Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of Blake (1863) and well before the general Blake revival. His wife, Emily, recorded in her journal that Tennyson acquired Blake’s Job on 9 April 1856. It is one of the 215 published “Proof” copies (65 on French paper and 150 on India paper) printed in 1826 by James Lahee, since the word was erased after these copies had been printed. Tennyson’s copy is on India paper.


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