Imagination ablaze: 750 years on from Dante’s birth William Blake’s spectacular illustrations to The Divine Comedy Celebrated around the world as a literary monument The Divine Comedy completed in 1321 and written by Dante Alighieri (1265 1321) is widely considered the greatest work ever composed in the Italian language. The epic poem describes Dante’s journey through Hell Purgatory and Heaven representing on a deeper level the soul’s path towards salvation. In the last few years of his life Romantic poet and artist William Blake (1757 1827) produced 102 illustrations for Dante s masterwork from pencil sketches to finished watercolors. Like Dante’s sweeping poem Blake’s drawings range from scenes of infernal suffering to celestial light from horrifying human disfigurement to the perfection of physical form. While faithful to the text Blake also brought his own perspective to some of Dante’s central themes. Today Blake s illustrations left in various stages of completion at the time of his death are dispersed among seven different institutions.