British poet, painter, and engraver William Blake was born at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St) in the Soho district of London on this date in 1757. Unrecognised during his lifetime, he is now considered one of the greats of the Western Canon. He spent his whole life in London save for a few years here,
in this cottage in Felpham, Sussex where he worked illustrating the poems of William Hayley and began Milton: a Poem the preface to which contains “And did those feet in ancient time”, one of the most famous lines of poetry in the English speaking language.
According to his biographer Gilchrist (as quoted by Wikipedia), Blake, on the day of his death, worked relentlessly on his Dante series. Seeing his wife Catherine next to his bed he is said to have cried, “Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me.” After finishing the portrait, Blake set aside his tools and started to sing hymns and verses. At six in the evening, after promising Katherine that “he would be with her always”, Blake died. Gilchrist reports that a lodger in the house, present at his expiration, said, “I have been at the death, not of a man, but of a blessed angel.”
Blake’s unmarked grave is today commemorated by a stone that reads “Near by lie the remains of the poet-painter William Blake 1757–1827 and his wife Catherine Sophia 1762–1831″. It is located in Bunhill Fields cemetery in the London Borough of Islington, north of the City of London.