William Blake moved to Lambeth in 1790, with Catherine his wife. He was 33 years old and the next ten years when he stayed at 13 Hercules Buildings (now Hercules Rd) were arguably the most productive of his life.
London in the late 1780s was a place of French-inspired revolution and Blake moved in political and potentially dangerous circles. Through the radical bookseller Joseph Johnson he met Tom Paine, author of The Rights of Man and the feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft, one of whose books he illustrated.
Blake had trained as an engraver. He worked for authors and booksellers to produce engraved illustrations, like this for his friend J G Stedman’s book about the slave revolt in Surinam. Later commissions included illustrations to Dante and the Book of Job