An ‘apostle of futurity’: William Blake as herald of a universal religious worldview

Naomi Billingsley

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This article examines a strand of William Blake criticism from the second quarter
of the twentieth century that styled his work as an embodiment of a universal religious worldview. In particular, it focuses on the writings of Max Plowman
and John Middleton Murry from the mid 1920s to the early 1940s, for whom
Blake’s works were portals into eternity and the future, and who celebrated Blake
as prophet of a spiritual Weltanschauung for the modern age. The article examines similar principles in the work of British artists in this period, and is framed by exploring a parallel between the Blake of Plowman and Murry, and the use of
painter-poet’s name for the Australian Blake Prize for religious art, inaugurated
in 1950–51.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVisual Culture in Britain
Issue number3
Early online date18 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • William Blake
  • Max Plowman
  • Jonathan Middleton Murry

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • John Rylands Research Institute and Library


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