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Auguries of Innocence: First Experiences with Letterpress

EVENT: Auguries of Innocence: First Experiences with Letterpress

DATE: 22nd May 2023

TIME: 6.30 - 9.30 pm (Doors open 6.00 pm)

VENUE: Swedenborg Hall and Wynter Room

ARTIST/S: William Blake

CURATOR/S: Nicholas Jeeves

SPEAKER/S: Sibylle Erle | Elizabeth Frazer | Nicholas Jeeves | Stephen Pritchard

PARTICIPANT/S: Graphic design students of Cambridge School of Art

The Swedenborg Society, Ruskin Arts Publications, Anglia Ruskin University and the Blake Society present an exclusive book launch, with accompanying talks and exhibition.

Graphic design students at Cambridge School of Art turn their hands to letterpress in a five-year project celebrating William Blake and ‘Auguries of Innocence’.

Each year from 2014 to 2018, graphic design students at Cambridge School of Art, ARU, were assigned a brief: to typeset and print in letterpress a couplet from William Blake’s ‘Auguries of Innocence’. None of them had used letterpress before.

A selection of their prints is now collected in a unique visual edition of ‘Auguries of Innocence’—comprising the printed poem in its entirety, and revealing an intriguing insight into sixty-six creative minds as they navigate what is, to them, new technology. With essays by editor and project director Nicholas Jeeves, letterpress tutor Elizabeth Fraser, and Blake scholar Sibylle Erle, the book also features over fifty remarkable images of experiments and works in progress.

Ruskin Arts Publications, kindly supported by The Blake Society, will launch the book at a special event at Swedenborg House in May. 50 copies of the book will be available to buy from the Swedenborg House bookshop; 25 of these will be signed and numbered hardbacks, featuring dust jackets letterpress printed by Nicholas Jeeves and Elizabeth Fraser.

Upstairs in the Wynter Room there will also be a display of the original prints, and in Swedenborg Hall, brief talks by Nicholas and Elizabeth—as well as thoughts on Blake, ‘Auguries of Innocence’, and the designers’ responses to the poem, by Sibylle Erle and Stephen Pritchard of The Blake Society. After the launch, the paperback edition of the book will be available to buy via the print-on-demand platform Blurb.

For those unable to attend this wonderful launch event, you will nevertheless still be able to order copies of the trade paperback edition at Blurb The link to purchase copies will appear here in due course.

Launch event: 6.30-9.30 pm, Monday 22 May, Swedenborg House, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH

Nicholas Jeeves is a lecturer in graphic design at Cambridge School of Art, an editor at Ruskin Arts Publications and associate editor at The Public Domain Review. He conceived the ‘Auguries of Innocence’ project and edited and designed this book. His website:

Elizabeth Fraser is a lecturer at Cambridge School of Art where she teaches letterpress and relief printmaking. A widely exhibited printmaker, her practice and research plays with the interface between our analogue and digital lives. She delivered the practical instruction for this project. Her website:

Dr Sibylle Erle is chair of The Blake Society and Visiting Scholar at the University of Lincoln, and works on Blake, death and monsters. She is the author of Blake, Lavater and Physiognomy (2010), co-editor of The Reception of William Blake in Europe (2019), and co-curator of Blake and Physiognomy at Tate Britain.

Stephen Pritchard is Secretary of the Blake Society. He studied Blake at Exeter College, Oxford, teaching undergraduates and running classes on Blake. Stephen co-founded the WOMAD Festival in 1982 with Peter Gabriel. He taught drama for many years and has made eight educational drama films, and recently created and directed a new multimedia play, Albion, Awake! about William Blake’s life and work.