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The Publisher Not Mad

Karen Mulhallen

Given the facts of Richard Edwards’s life, I was surprised to read in the Tate Britain exhibition catalogue (p. 105), “After Edwards’s demise (he had become insane), Blake seems to have acquired a stock of the Night Thoughts publication and hand-coloured these for patrons, creating a luxurious new version of the illustrations for them.” There is no record of Richard going mad, nor of any issues with his bookshop and publishing activities. His brother James had a fashionable and immensely popular shop nearby and took over his stock when Richard accepted a government appointment. It is possible that the uncolored Night Thoughts remainders were given to Blake in part payment for his work with Richard Edwards at this time and not, as the Tate catalogue states, after Richard’s demise, since Blake and Edwards died in the same year, 1827, Blake in August and Richard in October.

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