Michael Phillips

Fonds number:
Title: Michael Phillips
Dates of Material:
4.53 m of textual records
61 photographs : b&w
263 photographs : col.
280 photographs : col. slides
2 video cassettes
10 audio cassettes
1 CD
Electronic records
Biographical sketch

Michael Phillips (1940-) is an internationally recognized William Blake scholar and academic. He was born to Paul Curtis Phillips and Louise Phillips in New York City and grew up in Southern California.

Phillips obtained a BA in English from Loyola University, Los Angeles, in 1963, and, in 1969, earned a PhD from the University of Exeter; his thesis was titled The Poetical Sketches of William Blake. He obtained a BPhil in Modern English Studies from Worcester College, University of Oxford in 1971.

Phillips was influenced by his friendships with Shakespearian scholar G. Wilson Knight and prominent Blake scholar Sir Geoffrey Keynes and his work on William Blake became increasingly interdisciplinary over the course of his career. He trained in printmaking techniques at the Edinburgh College of Art and became a member of the professional Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop, where he began successfully replicating Blake’s “illuminated printing” technique in studio. This printmaking training informed Phillips’ numerous publications, especially his book William Blake: The Creation of the Songs: From Manuscript to Illuminated Printing, 2000.

Phillips has taught at Oxford, University College London, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of York. He has also lectured and given Blake printmaking demonstrations internationally, including at Victoria University, University of Toronto, in 2012.

In addition, Phillips has been guest curator of William Blake exhibitions at Tate Britain and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Petit Palais in Paris, and, currently, for the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford.

His work has been recognized with awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Yale Centre for British Art, British Library Centre for the Book, a British Academy Research Readership in the Humanities, Waynflete Lectureship, Magdalen College, Oxford, and the Medal of the Collège de France.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of Michael Phillips' records relating to his academic writings, including his extensive correspondence with Blake scholars, publishers, and printers as well as records related to lectures, exhibits and research in printmaking.

Photographs are of images of works by Blake, printmaking techniques and tools as well as images used in the catalogue for the Ashmolean Museum's Blake exhibition in 2014.

Source of supplied title

Title based on the contents of the fonds.

Immediate source of acquisition

Records in Accession 2020.01 were found inside the pages of a series of Blake books donated to the Library by Michael Phillips. The records were removed by library staff during cataloging and given to the archivist as an addition to the Phillips fonds.

All other records were donated by Michael Phillips.


Beginning in 2020, the archivist undertook a major overhaul of the organization of the Michael Phillips finding aid in order to impose greater intellectual control on the growing number of records. Prior to this reorganization, no series existed and the records in the fonds had instead been arranged by individual work or activity. Subject headings were used to group the records under the titles of each significant achievement.

As of 2022, the records are now organized into six series based on the functional activities of Phillips's work. The subject headings have been maintained by the archivist to divide the major projects and works within each series.

Access restrictions

Certain correspondence files in Series 1 contain personal information and have been restricted by the archivist. Please visit the series page and read the description for more information.


Further accruals are expected.


The fonds is stored in 39 boxes.

Related resources

A Demonstration of William Blake's Printing Methods, 30 March 2012. Featuring Michael Phillips. Produced by Michael Andreae, Doug Fox and Alistair Boyd. 2014. Available online in Digital Collections.

Blake's innovative printing processes, demonstrated by Michael Phillip's for the Getty Museum's exhibition, William Blake: Visionary.