|Title Page of the First Edition of Paradise Lost|
John Milton was a 17th century historian, journalist and poet born on December 9th, 1608 in London, England. He was best known for his writing of Paradise Lost. Milton first planned to become a priest. He studied at Cambridge University and afterwards decided to abandon this path to become a full time writer and poet. Milton became very active in politics, and often wrote political pamphlets along with his other writings. As a protestant who believed in freedom of worship, Milton was often at odds with the Roman Catholic Church, an organization strongly opposed to the protestants. Eventually, John Milton would work for the English government under Oliver Cromwell after the removal of the monarchy.
Milton married in 1643 to Mary Powell, but this marriage was deemed a disaster. During this time Milton began writing about divorce and the merits that came along with it. These works were denounced by Parliament and the marriage marked some of the harder times in his life. She would die in 1652 during childbirth of one of his four offspring with her. Not only would his only son also die that year, but he would also lose his vision. Milton continued constructing literature during this time, but instead of writing down his work he would dictate it while a colleague would write it down. Milton would marry twice more in his lifetime.
Many of his works have religious, political, and personal themes. For example, instances of imagery of light and darkness and good and evil can be found in several works, including the annotated examples given in the section below. Milton came to face his own battle with inevitable darkness as he began to lose his sight. In order to keep writing, he employed assistants. One of the most well known of his assistants is fellow writer Andrew Marvell. When the monarchy was restored in England in 1660, Milton was imprisoned, but later pardoned. He spent the rest of his life writing.
He passed away on November 8th, 1674 in London, England.
Annotated Examples of Milton’s Poetry:
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Title Page Paradise Lost. From Wikimedia Commons.
Contributors: Amanda Stevens, John Young, Chris Spyres,