Lincolnshire Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson owned an original copy of William Blake’s masterpiece Illustrations of the Book of Job, a Lincoln academic has discovered.
The book, which consists of a series of engraved prints by Blake published in 1826, has been part of the Tennyson Research Centre at Lincolnshire County Council for many years. The discovery by Dr Sibylle Erle is significant as the book had been archived as part of Tennyson’s collection of Old and New Testaments Bibles. Until now Blake scholars were unaware that Tennyson owned one of the 150 original copies of Blake’s Job. Dr Erle, Senior Lecturer in English at Bishop Grosseteste University, said: “Tennyson probably acquired the book before the publication of the first major Blake biography in 1863, which reignited interest in Blake and his work in the mid-nineteenth century. It’s important to realise that Tennyson got hold of his copy before the Blake revival started. Tennyson has been compared to Blake but now there is evidence that Tennyson was interested in Blake. Dr Erle has been working on an online exhibition about Tennyson’s copy of The Illustration of the Book of Job. The website can now be found at www.lincstothepast.com/exhibitions/tennyson