John Milton is one of the most famous English writers of all time. His body of work features some of the most complex and outstanding poetry and prose that was ever written.
Let’s take a deeper look into the life of one of England’s finest ever writers.
John Milton Facts
1. John Milton was born in 1608
John Milton was born in Bread Street, London on 9th December 1608. His father, also named John Milton had found success in the English capital working as a scrivener, while his mother was a woman known as Sarah Jeffrey.
Milton’s father was known for his musical talents and this is said to have done a great deal in terms of inspiring his young son creatively. The earliest pieces of writing from Milton are traced back to when he was 15 years old. One of his earlier attempts was called in quintum novembris and was about the gunpowder plot which took place in London.
2. John Milton’s most famous work is Paradise Lost
John Milton published a great number of works during his life but few have had the impact that Paradise Lost had. Paradise Lost is seen as one of the most complex and beautiful poems ever written, an interesting John Milton fact.
The book was originally published in 1667 and features over 10,000 lines of verse across its epic ten volumes. The poem features several religious themes including the fall of man, the temptation of Adam and Eve and Satan.
3. John Milton was married three times
An interesting fact about John Milton is that he developed quite a reputation as a lady’s man during his lifetime. Milton was apparently a very attractive young man when he was young and this detail was not missed by the females in his life.
Milton married for the first time in 1642 when he married a woman by the name of Mary Powell. Powell was considerably younger than John Milton and their marriage raised a lot of eyebrows in some of the higher social circles that they were a part of.
She would die ten years later and Milton would remarry, this time to a woman called Katherine Woodcock. She died six years later and Milton remarried once again, this time to a woman called Elizabeth Minshull, who would stay with him until he died.
4. John Milton went completely blind
While working n parliament and while he was writing Paradise Lost, John Milton began to slowly go blind. His sight disappeared completely by 1652 and this meant that he could not carry out a lot of his work without any assistance.
His daughter helped him finish Paradise Lost as she would transcribe the words that he was dictating to her.
5. John Milton studied at Cambridge University
In 1625, John Milton began studying at Christ’s College at Cambridge University. These years were crucial in developing who Milton would become later in his life.
Milton had a complicated relationship with his university. He often commented that he felt out of place and he would regularly have quarrels with other students, and in one case, with one of his tutors.
Regardless of these difficulties, Milton graduated with a BA in 1629, performing exceptionally well and being one of the top students in his class. He would later achieve a Master of Arts degree in 1632.
6. John Milton travelled extensively around Europe
In 1638, having graduated from university, John Milton set out on a 15-month tour of Europe. This journey took him out into various different countries but it is said that he spent the majority of that time in Italy and France.
It is also said that he met a number of influential and important artists while he was out there. One of these encounters was with Gallileo, who is said to have had a big impact on him. Milton would later reference Gallileo in his most famous work, Paradise Lost, an interesting John Milton fact.
7. John Milton was a big defender of Freedom of Speech
John Milton was an adamant defender of Freedom of Speech and one of his most famous works was Areopagitica. This was an attack on pre-publication censorship and became an expression of free speech and freedom of the press.
Milton’s quest for freedom was also evident in his work, which was very experimental and often pushed the boundaries imposed at the time.
8. John Milton’s work has influenced some of the greatest English writers and poets
John Milton is widely regarded as one of the greatest English writers and poets to have ever lived. His work has inspired countless writers and he has been hailed as one of, if not the greatest English poet to have ever lived.
One of the most famous people to have been influenced by the work of John Milton is the famous romantic poet, William Blake. Blake was inspired by Milton’s work and saw himself as the son of Milton from a poetic standpoint. His two-volume work, Milton, features John Milton as its main character.
9. John Milton served as ‘the secretary for foreign tongues’
John Milton earned himself a political reputation following the English civil war and this led to his appointment by the state as the ‘secretary of foreign tongues’ in 1649. This job involved Milton writing the English Republic’s foreign correspondence in Latin and also producing propaganda pieces.
An interesting fact about John Milton is that he published several of his great works during this time period and was notably very critical of the English monarchy. He would stay in this position until the death of Cromwell and would then be forced to go into hiding in 1660 after a warrant was put out for his arrest.
10. John Milton died in 1674
John Milton’s health deteriorated in his later years. After the death of Oliver Cronwell and going blind himself, Milton spent less and less time in the public eye.
He died on 8 November 1674 at the age of 65. The suspected cause of his death was kidney failure. His funeral was attended by several key literary figures and artists who were living in London at the time.
Few writers have had an impact on English literature that John Milton have had. His work is still studied extensively today and centuries after his death, he is still inspiring writers all over the world.
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