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Dennis M. Read, R. H. Cromek, Engraver, Editor, and Entrepreneur

Alexander S. Gourlay

Going back more than thirty years, Dennis Read has published articles large and small about the activities of Blake’s associate Robert Hartley Cromek (1770–1812); in the most important of these, “The Rival Canterbury Pilgrims of Blake and Cromek: Herculean Figures in the Carpet” (Modern Philology, 1988), he showed that contrary to the account assembled by Gilchrist and echoed by most of Blake’s subsequent biographers, who hold that Cromek stole the idea from Blake, Blake’s Chaucer picture and engraving were conceived and created in response to the painting by Thomas Stothard and the projected engraving after it. Now Read has gathered together much of what else he has found out about Cromek in a more comprehensive biography that concentrates on the busy final decade of Cromek’s life, arguing persuasively that Cromek has been (somewhat) misunderstood.

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