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Mind-Forg'd Manacles, William Blake and Slavery. A Blake Society lecture in the House of Commons

Blake made images of slavery which helped the abolition movement and believed in mental slavery.

The Blake Society
250th Anniversary Event FREE ENTRY
Tuesday 12 June 2007 at 7.30 pm
At: The Grand Committee Room of the Houses of Parliament, London, SW1A 0AA

During the height of the popular protest against the British Slave Trade in the early 1790s, the poet and artist William Blake (1757-1827) was responsible for making images of slavery and slave torture that played a part in the abolition of Slavery by informing readers at home in England of the horrors of the enslavement of Africans in the British sugar colonies. These images remain shocking today and those interested in the history of the Abolition of slavery will recognise many of them.

Blake was also fervently opposed to all forms of slavery – in particular of one’s own making. In 1807 Parliament abolished the Atlantic trade in slaves. But for Blake slavery was also a mental state. To have limited perceptions, to pursue materialistic ends, to set oneself above others, to follow conventional religion or science was to be enslaved and to be held with ‘mind-forg’d manacles’. This lecture will deal with both actual and mental slavery.

Professor Bindman is an art historian and editor of William Blake - The Complete Illuminated Books, other books on Blake, and books on Hogarth, Flaxman, Roubiliac and English attitudes to the French Revolution. He is curating the travelling exhibition organised by the British Museum and the Hayward Gallery to mark the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade by Parliament in 1807.

This event is free to all, however, attendees should arrive early, and not bring large bags or suitcases, allowing 20 minutes or more to go through the security checks and scanner. There is limited seating which will be allotted on a first come first served basis. Attendees should enter the Houses of Parliament by the St Stephens entrance (the public entrance), on St Margaret Street at the front of the building, and opposite Westminster Abbey. The Grand Committee Room is accessible to wheelchairs but wheelchair users must make an appointment well in advance in order to be escorted to the room via alternative entrances with lifts (0207 219 3090).

This year is the 250th anniversary of the birth of the London poet, artist and
visionary, William Blake (1757-1827).

Visitors travelling on the London Underground can use the District, Circle or Jubilee lines to get to Westminster station, which is fully wheelchair accessible. Victoria, Charing Cross and Waterloo mainline stations are about 20 minutes away by foot and have connecting buses. Buses 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 77A, 88, 148, 159 & 453 all stop nearby. These buses should all be wheelchair accessible but users should check this with Transport For London before travelling.

Enquiries to: Blake Society Press Officer: 01371 851042


Professor David Bindman | talks | www


Date and Time:

12 June 2007 at 7:30 pm





House of Commons

Show map

Organised by:

Blake Society
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Available from:

Additional Information:

Arrive half hour early to get through tight security checks. Please do not bring large bags. Venue queries: 0207 219 3090. Other queries: 01371 851042.

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