He was the perfect example of the artist unappreciated while he lived but lionized after his death. He is best known for his illuminated drawings and paintings. We recognize his poems such as "Tyger, tyger, burning bright" and "To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower."
He met Catherine Boucher in 1782, when he was recovering emotionally from a rejected proposal. He told her his story and when he asked if she pitied him, she answered, "Yes." His reply was "Then I love you." He married her later in the year. Not a very romantic beginning to a love affair but it was a strong and devoted marriage that lasted until his death, a span of forty-five years.
Catherine was illiterate when they met, signing the wedding contract with an X. Blake taught her to read and write and trained her in engraving. She was his helper both with colouring his illuminated works and supporting him emotionally when difficulties arose.
One of his final projects was the engravings for Dante's Divine comedy, although he died before these could be completed.
On the day he died, in 1827, his wife sat at his bedside in tears as he worked. He stopped his work and said to her, "Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me." He painted her portrait, then after promising his wife he would be with her forever, he died at six in the evening.
After his death, Catherine felt Blake's spirit visited her often. She consulted him before each sale of one of his illuminated works.
Catherine had to borrow money to pay for Blake's funeral and became a housekeeper following his death. The exact site of the grave became lost but has been recently rediscovered. It is now marked by a simple stone with both William and Catherine's names and dates.
Catherine died in October, 1831, after calling out to her husband that she would soon be with him again, speaking as though he were in the next room.