1778. London: James Phillips, George Yard, Lombard Street. And sold also by S. Leacroft, Charing Cross; T. Mills, Bristol; and E. Score, Exeter, MDCCLXXVIII .
4to, , lvii, , 412 pp. Early calf, modern rebacking, red morocco label, old ink signature on title, ink signature on front free endpaper "Susanna Byrne (?)" dated 1779, occasional spotting, a very good, wide-margined copy.
§ First edition in English, translated by William Cookworthy and Thomas Hartley. A very scarce book in commerce, appearing in auction records only five times since 1900.
Heaven and Hell was first published in Latin in 1758 under the title De Caelo et Eius Mirabilibus et de inferno, ex Auditis et Visis. Described in a current publication of the Swedenborg Society as "an explorer’s account of heaven, hell and the world of spirits," it describes the different communities in the afterlife and what happens when we die. It is still one Swedenborg's most read and most influential books. Important themes include the characteristics of angels, the endurance of married life after death, the sin of polygamy, and the spiritual free will of humans, even to the posthumous choice of an afterlife in heaven or hell.
Thomas Hartley, a mystically minded minister of the Church of England, visited and corresponded with Swedenborg often, and at least once brought William Cookworthy to visit him at Cold Bath Fields. Cookworthy was a polymath and an unorthodox Quaker who turned from porcelain manufacturing to preaching and scholarship after the death of his much-loved wife. Prior to Heaven and Hell, he had been the translator of The Doctrine of Life (1763), the first of Swedenborg's works to appear in English.
Blake was well aware of Swedenborg and is known to have owned and read the second edition of Heaven and Hell (1784) now at Harvard. This copy came from the library of Ron Siegel MD, a noted researcher into descriptions of ecstatic states, drug-induced euphorias, etc. ESTC T147494. Item #123191