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Hundreds of lost William Blake etchings discovered at a Manchester Library


Researchers at the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library have stumbled upon a treasure trove of works by poet and artist William Blake.

After two years work the students, overseen by Blake expert and Manchester university art historian Colin Trodd, found about 350 engraved plates designed by Blake in the collection.

The library has held works by Blake including hand-coloured illustrations of Young’s Nights Thoughts, but the team suspected more were hidden in the collection of a million books and records.

John Rylands library archivist Stella Halkyard said: "The students had some specialist training in identifying prints from David Morris at the Whitworth Art Gallery before hunting through the collection. They found out we actually had a huge number of commercial engravings by Blake.”

Many will go on show at the library next month.  Blake, who was born in 1757 and died in 1827, was largely unrecognised in his lifetime but would later be considered one of the most important poets of the Romantic period.