Image of John Milton


Lifetime: 1608 - 1674 Passed: ≈ 349 years ago


Poet, Prose Polemicist, Civil Servant



John Milton

John Milton was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under its Council of State and later under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667). Written in blank verse, Paradise Lost is widely considered to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written.

Writing in English, Latin, Greek, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime; his celebrated Areopagitica (1644), written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship, is among history's most influential and impassioned defenses of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. His desire for freedom extended into his style: he introduced new words (coined from Latin and Ancient Greek) to the English language, and was the first modern writer to employ unrhymed verse outside of the theatre or translations.

John Milton was born in Bread Street, London on 9 December 1608, the son of composer John Milton and his wife Sarah Jeffrey. The senior John Milton (1562–1647) moved to London around 1583 after being disinherited by his devout Catholic father Richard "the Ranger" Milton for embracing Protestantism. In London, the senior John Milton married Sarah Jeffrey (1572–1637) and found lasting financial success as a scrivener. He lived in and worked from a house on Bread Street, where the Mermaid Tavern was located in Cheapside. The elder Milton was noted for his skill as a musical composer, and this talent left his son with a lifelong appreciation for music and friendships with musicians such as Henry Lawes.

Milton died of consumption (not gout, state the Parish books of Bunhill Fields) on 8 November 1674 and was buried in the church of St Giles-without-Cripplegate, Fore Street, London. According to an early biographer, his funeral was attended by "his learned and great Friends in London, not without a friendly concourse of the Vulgar." A monument was added in 1793, sculpted by John Bacon the Elder.

Books by John Milton

Paradise Lost Cover image

Paradise Lost

Poetry Mythology
Epic Religion

Magnificent in its scale and scope, this monumental poem by the blind poet John Milton was the first epic conceived in the English language. It describes an omniscient, all powerful God, the Fall of Man, the Temptation in the Garden of Eden, the disg...

Areopagitica Cover image


Political Science Essays
Short Works Free Speech Speeches

Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc'd Printing, to the Parlament of England is a 1644 prose polemic by the English poet, scholar, and polemical author John Milton opposing licensing and censorship. Areopagitica is am...

Samson Agonistes  Cover image

Samson Agonistes

Novel Tragedy
Drama Historical Fiction Narrative Civil War Warriors

Samson Agonistes is a tragic closet drama by John Milton. It appeared with the publication of Milton's Paradise Regained in 1671, as the title page of that volume states: "Paradise Regained / A Poem / In IV Books / To Which Is Added / Samson Agoniste...

Paradise Regained  Cover image

Paradise Regained

Epic Imagery Theology Poems Paradise Religious

Paradise Regained is a poem by English poet John Milton, first published in 1671. The volume in which it appeared also contained the poet's closet drama Samson Agonistes. Paradise Regained is connected by name to his earlier and more famous epic poem...

The History of Britain Cover image

The History of Britain

Tradition Antiquity England Middle Ages Historicity Conquest

The History of Britain, that Part especially now called England; from the first traditional Beginning, continued to the Norman Conquest. Collected out of the antientest and best Authours thereof, an unfinished prose work by the English poet John Milt...

On the Late Massacre in the Piedmont Cover image

On the Late Massacre in the Piedmont

Power Crime Faith Poems Injustice Resistance Verses

In the heart of 17th-century Europe, a massacre of innocent Waldensians ignites a fire of fury and poetic protest in the soul of John Milton. John Milton, the renowned English poet, unleashes a searing sonnet, "On the Late Massacre in the Piedmont,...

Adam and Eve Cover image

Adam and Eve

LibriVox volunteers bring you 15 recordings of Adam and Eve (From “Paradise Lost,” Fourth Book) by John Milton. This was the Weekly Poetry project for Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was o...

Paradis Perdu Cover image

Paradis Perdu

Comme Virgile a développé l’épopée à célébrer l’origine de sa propre patrie, Milton l’a adaptée encore plus pour raconter l’origine du mal et le remède à la chute de l’homme; c’est ce sujet qu’il appelle “des choses qui n’ont encore été tentées ni en...

Milton's Minor Poems Cover image

Milton's Minor Poems

“On Shakespear 1630” typifies much of Milton’s poetry. By some miracle never yet explained, at age 24 he managed to get a 16-line encomium included in the Second Folio of the Bard’s collected works, 1632. Quite a coup! And this brand new M.A., never...