At a Section Salon in December 2019, Patricia Dickson sang two songs from the poetry of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. I wrote these songs for Patricia so that she and I could perform them at the Advent salon.
William Blake / Friend of Mary Wollstonecraft
Here’s what poet / scholar Kathleen Raine says about William Blake and Mary Wollstonecraft.
At the time [that Blake wrote Songs of Innocence and of Experience] he must have known Mary Wollstonecraft well. Visions of the Daughters of Albion, whose theme is the situation of women under restrictive marriage-laws, may also have been inspired by Mary, who as well as publishing her Vindication of the Rights of Women adopted Rousseau’s views on free love and courageously and disastrously put those ideas into practice. She was abandoned by her lover, the American explorer Imlay, the father of her first daughter, Fanny. Mary afterwards married Godwin, who was also an acquaintance of Blake’s, and Shelley’s second wife, (Mary also) was the child of this marriage. Shelley was thus in a sense a spiritual heir to Blake’s views on love and marriage also.
Blake’s Songs of Innocence may well have been directly or indirectly suggested to him by Mary Wollstonecraft; they were his contribution to the current conflict of ideas in the field of education at the end of the eighteenth century, and to the new thought of which Rousseau was the moving spirit.”
— Kathleen Raine, from That Wondrous Pattern
Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus / The Education of the Free and Ethical Human Being
The education of the free and ethical human being is a salient theme in the famous novel of trans-humanism Frankenstein written by Mary Wollstonecraft’s daughter Mary Shelley. We have discussed this novel and its themes of education, trans-humanism, and individual spritual freedom several times in past meetings.