The First Book of Urizen as it was originally called, was composed in 1794 but printed only in 1818. It parodies the Book of Genesis by presenting the creation of the material world as a downfall. The process is initiated by Urizen when he separates himself from his fellow "Eternals" and thereby creates difference and self-consciousness. As Urizen falls into this void of his own making, Los reacts by building a material and temporal base below which Urizen cannot descend.
There are only a handful of copies of the book. Copy G, available here, was sold anonymously at Sotheby's on 20 January 1852 for £8.15s. to Richard Monckton Milnes, First Lord Houghton. His son, the Earl of Crewe, sold it at Sotheby's on 30 March 1903 for £307 to the dealer Bernard Quaritch, probably acting for William A. White. White owned it the next month. It was sold posthumously from White's collection through A. S. W. Rosenbach to Lessing J. Rosenwald on 1 May 1929, for approximately $5,000. In 1945, it was given by Rosenwald to the Library of Congress, where it now resides.
Lambeth. Printed by Will Blake 1794.