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Vol. 56 no. 2: Fall 2022

Marsha Keith Schuchard, A Concatenation of Conspiracies: “Irish” William Blake and Illuminist Freemasonry in 1798

25 October 2022
26 Oct. 2022


This readable and compelling study, focusing on the tempestuous 1790s in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Europe and the culmination of events in the Irish uprising of 1798, yields important new insights on Blake and his historical context. Schuchard’s research in Moravian archives in 2001 (Davies, “William Blake in Contexts” 4) (with subsequent collaboration with Keri Davies) resulted in the announcement in 2004 in these pages of her startling discovery that Blake’s mother had attended the Moravian Church, and that the church took a decided interest in—​as it did with all church members—​Catherine Wright’s marriage to her first husband, Thomas Armitage. This, along with Schuchard’s further research on Blake and Moravianism and other sects in William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, was sparked by the revelations in E. P. Thompson’s Witness against the Beast (120-21) and subsequently in Davies’s “William Blake’s Mother: A New Identification” about that first marriage. A Concatenation of Conspiracies expands upon this groundbreaking work.