Blake wrote poems during this time as well, and his first printed collection, 1783. was published in 1789, followed by in 1793 and a combined edition the next year bearing the title appeared in
Blake’s political radicalism intensified during the years leading up to the . He disapproved of rationalism, of institutionalized religion, and of the tradition of marriage in its conventional legal and social form (though he was married himself). His nonconformist religious thinking is particularly evident in In the 1790s and after, he shifted his poetic voice from the lyric to the prophetic mode, and wrote a series of long prophetic books, including and Linked together by an intricate mythology and symbolism of Blake’s own creation, these books propose a revolutionary new social, intellectual, and ethical order.
Blake published almost all of his works himself, by an original process in which the poems were etched by hand, along with illustrations and decorative images, onto copper plates. These plates were inked to make prints, and the prints were then coloured in with paint. This production method was called “illuminated printing”. Most students of Blake find it necessary to consider his graphic art and his writing together; he himself thought of them as inseparable.
Blake believed that his poetry could be read and understood by common people, but he was determined not to sacrifice his vision in order to become popular. When an exhibition of his works met with financial failure in 1809, Blake sank into depression and withdrew into obscurity; he remained alienated for the rest of his life.
During his lifetime Blake never made much money. His contemporaries saw him as something of an eccentric. It was only after his death that his genius was fully appreciated. His engravings and commissioned work drew enough money to survive, but at times he had to rely on the support of some of his close friends.
Blake left no debts at his death on August 12, 1827. Wordsworth's verdict after Blake's death reflected many opinions of the time: "There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott."
Suspended between the Neoclassicism of the 18th century and the early phases of Romanticism, William Blake heavily influenced the Romantic poets with recurring themes of good and evil, heaven and hell, knowledge and innocence, and external reality versus inner.
Only in the 20th century wide audiences began to acknowledge his profound originality and genius.
His works have been used by people rebelling against a wide variety of issues, such as war, conformity, and almost every kind of repression.