John Milton

Poet and Prose Polemicist
Born Dec 9, 1608

John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost. Milton's poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day.… Read More

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1608 Birth John Milton was born in Bread Street, London on 9 December 1608, the son of composer John Milton and his wife Sarah Jeffrey. … Read More


1625 16 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1625, Milton began attending Christ's College, Cambridge. … Read More
1626 17 Years Old In 1626, Milton's tutor was Nathaniel Tovey. … Read More


1632 23 Years Old 1 More Event
Upon receiving his M.A. in 1632, Milton retired to Hammersmith, his father's new home since the previous year. … Read More
1638 29 Years Old 1 More Event
In May 1638, Milton embarked upon a tour of France and Italy that lasted up to July or August 1639. … Read More


1639 30 Years Old 1 More Event
Originally, Milton wanted to leave Naples in order to travel to Sicily and then on to Greece, but he returned to England during the summer of 1639 because of what he claimed in Defensio Secunda were "sad tidings of civil war in England." … Read More
1642 33 Years Old In June 1642, Milton paid a visit to the manor house at Forest Hill, Oxfordshire and returned with 16 year-old bride Mary Powell. … Read More
In the meantime, her desertion prompted Milton to publish a series of pamphlets over the next three years arguing for the legality and morality of divorce. (Anna Beer, one of Milton's most recent biographers, points to a lack of evidence and the dangers of cynicism in urging that it was not necessarily the case that the private life so animated the public polemicising.) In 1643, Milton had a brush with the authorities over these writings, in parallel with Hezekiah Woodward, who had more trouble. … Read More
1645 36 Years Old Even here, though, his originality is qualified: Thomas Gataker had already identified "mutual solace" as a principal goal in marriage. Milton abandoned his campaign to legitimise divorce after 1645, but he expressed support for polygamy in the De Doctrina Christiana, the theological treatise that provides the clearest evidence for his views.


With the parliamentary victory in the Civil War, Milton used his pen in defence of the republican principles represented by the Commonwealth. The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649) defended popular government and implicitly sanctioned the regicide; Milton's political reputation got him appointed Secretary for Foreign Tongues by the Council of State in March 1649. … Read More
1650 41 Years Old Milton embraced many heterodox Christian theological views. He rejected the Trinity, in the belief that the Son was subordinate to the Father, a position known as Arianism; and his sympathy or curiosity was probably engaged by Socinianism: in August 1650 he licensed for publication by William Dugard the Racovian Catechism, based on a non-trinitarian creed. … Read More
1652 43 Years Old 1 More Event
On 24 February 1652, Milton published his Latin defence of the English people Defensio pro Populo Anglicano, also known as the First Defence. … Read More
1654 45 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1654, Milton completed the second defence of the English nation Defensio secunda in response to an anonymous Royalist tract "Regii sanguinis clamor", a work that made many personal attacks on Milton. … Read More
1655 46 Years Old Alexander Morus, to whom Milton wrongly attributed the Clamor (in fact by Peter du Moulin), published an attack on Milton, in response to which Milton published the autobiographical Defensio pro se in 1655. … Read More
1656 47 Years Old On 12 November 1656, Milton was married to Katherine Woodcock. … Read More


1659 - 1660 2 More Events
1662 53 Years Old Milton married for a third time on 24 February 1662 to Elizabeth Mynshull (1638–1728), the niece of Thomas Mynshull, a wealthy apothecary and philanthropist in Manchester. … Read More
1663 54 Years Old Milton married for a third and final time on 24 February 1663, marrying Elizabeth (Betty) Minshull aged 24, a native of Wistaston, Cheshire. … Read More
1667 58 Years Old On 27 April 1667, Milton sold the publication rights for Paradise Lost to publisher Samuel Simmons for £5, equivalent to approximately £7,400 income in 2008, with a further £5 to be paid if and when each print run sold out of between 1,300 and 1,500 copies. … Read More


1671 62 Years Old Milton followed up the publication Paradise Lost with its sequel Paradise Regained, which was published alongside the tragedy Samson Agonistes in 1671. … Read More
1673 64 Years Old In 1673, Milton republished his 1645 Poems, as well as a collection of his letters and the Latin prolusions from his Oxford days. … Read More
Milton died of kidney failure on 8 November 1674 and was buried in the church of St Giles Cripplegate, Fore Street, London. … Read More
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