John Milton is buried in St. Giles' Church without Cripplegate, London,
(St. Giles now lies in the heart of the Barbican development.)
Burial Stone of John Milton
Milton was educated at St Paul's School in London and then studied
languages at Cambridge University for seven years. In 1638 he travelled
to Italy - where he may have met Galileo. On his return to England
Milton became a fierce exponent of Cromwell.
1643 he married the 17 year-old Mary Powell (he was 33) - but their
marriage lasted only a month after she paid a visit to her Royalist
family and never returned. However, when the Royalist cause started to decline she begged
to be taken back and Milton agreed. Mary died in childbirth in 1652. He
also lost his second wife Catharine Woodcock in childbirth. He married
his third wife, Elizabeth Minshull, in 1662.
By the age of 43 Milton was blind and as a result he was forced to
dictate his poetry. (See his famous sonnet
On His Blindness.)
Following the execution of Charles I Milton published The Tenure of
Kings and Magistrates - arguing that power resided in the hands of
the people. As a result he was appointed secretary for foreign languages
to Cromwell's Council of State. After the Restoration, he lost his
position and was briefly arrested.
For the last twelve years of his life Milton lived in Bunhill Row,
Finsbury. It was here that he started
his epic poem Paradise Lost and the sequel Paradise Regained.
However, during the Great Plague he moved out to a cottage at Chalfont St
Giles in Buckinghamshire - where the
poem was completed.
described Paradise Lost as: 'one of the greatest, most noble and sublime poems which either this age or
nation has produced.' But Dr Johnson was
enamoured by it and famously said: 'Paradise Lost is one of the books
which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take up again.'
Milton's use of blank verse was hugely influential
for subsequent poets. His work was also a major influence on John Keats.
Milton's other famous works include:
Hymn on the Morning of Christ's nativity, Composed 1629, L'Allegro
Comus (1634), Lycidas
and Samson Agonistes (1671).
Milton died of gout in 1674.