London: Printed by T. Bensley for R. H. Cromek, 1808. First edition. Quarto (pages 275 x 340mm): [xvi], 36, [4, prospectus]; complete with the engraved frontis of Blake, engraved title page and eleven other plates engaved by Louis Schiavonetti after illustrations by William Blake. Handsomely bound in early 20th century full calf with rules stamped in black and a blue morocco spine label. Illustrated title trimmed a little tightly, no loss to the illustration. A clean and attractive copy internally with all plates retaining their tissue guards. With the armorial bookplate of C. E. Richardson, motto: virtute aquiritus honos. Housed in a custom slipcase.
A blank verse poem, The Grave was the work for which Scottish writer Robert Blair was most renowned. "In October 1805, William Blake was commissioned by the engraver and would-be publisher Robert H. Cromek to prepare forty drawings illustrating the popular "graveyard" school poem first published in 1743. In Cromek's first prospectus of November 1805, Blake is named as both the designer and engraver of fifteen designs...In a second prospectus, also from November 1805, Cromek announced that Luigi Schiavonetti would engrave twelve designs for the new edition. Blake had lost the lucrative commission to engrave his own designs; and his relationship with Cromek descended into anger and argument. In spite of their disagreement, Cromek included a portrait of Blake as a frontispiece to the volume, published in 1808. Cromek promoted the book aggressively and the illustrations to The Grave became Blake's best known work through much of the nineteenth century" (William Blake Archive). Near Fine (Item #4613)