What We Are Reading Today: William Blake

Updated 31 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: William Blake

Authors: Martin Myrone and Amy Concannon

William Blake (1757–1827) created some of the most iconic images in the history of art. He was a countercultural painter whose personal struggles, technical innovations, and revelatory vision have inspired generations of artists. This marvelously illustrated book explores the biographical, artistic, and political contexts that shaped Blake’s work, and demonstrates why he was a singularly gifted visual artist with renewed relevance for us today, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

The book explores Blake’s relationship with the art world of his time and provides new perspectives on his craft as a printmaker, poet, watercolorist, and painter. It makes sense of the profound historical forces with which he contended during his lifetime, from revolutions in America and France to the dehumanizing effects of industrialization. 

Readers gain incomparable insights into Blake’s desire for recognition and commercial success, his role as social critic, his visionary experience of London, his hatred of empire, and the bitter disappointments that drove him to retire from the world in his final years.  


What We Are Reading Today: Life in a Cold Climate by Laura Thompson

Updated 06 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Life in a Cold Climate by Laura Thompson

In an enjoyable biography of an interesting woman, Laura Thompson effectively analyses Nancy Mitford’s work in the context of her life and loves.

Mitford “was obviously a much more complex character than many modern accounts paint her and this book certainly demonstrates this,” said a review in goodreads.com.

A stylish and well-informed writer, Thompson brings a snobbishness of her own to her sympathetic account of Mitford’s life.

Christopher Benfey said in a review for The New York Times: “The firmness of Mitford’s anti-fascist views was put to the test during World War II when she was approached by British intelligence to spy on General de Gaulle’s Free French officer corps in London. A mole was apparently passing information to the collaborationist Vichy regime. Thompson tells us frustratingly little about this episode. Instead, she trains her attention on Mitford’s love affair with one of the officers, Charles de Gaulle’s right-hand man and chief political adviser, Gaston Palewski, a heavyset man with a Hitler mustache and receding hair.”