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Biography of John Milton

John Milton

As the son of John Milton Sr., a scrivener who was disowned after being found with an English Bible in his possession, and Sarah Jeffrey, a religious daughter of a merchant sailor, John Milton was born on December 9, 1608 in London, England.

Milton started writing poetry at the age of nine, his brother recalled after John's death "When he was young, he studied very hard and sat up very late, commonly till twelve or one o'clock at night."

Milton began his education at home under Thomas Young, then went on to study at St Paul's School, London, and later at Christ's College, Cambridge.

While at Cambridge Milton developed a reputation for his poetic skill and general erudition, with this and his long hair, he became known as the "Lady of Christ's". John also wrote some of his best poetry at Cambridge; including Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity, L'Allegro and Il Penseroso.

After receiving his degree from Cambridge (1632), Milton began travel of the continent in 1638 meeting the likes of Grotius, Galileo, and Lucas Holete. However, he was recalled by a rumor of the English Civil War in 1638.

Milton later lost his eyesight from either incessant labors or glaucoma which forced him to write through a scribe. Nevertheless, he held his office with Cromwell until the restoration, which led Charles II to arrest and execute all of those in collaboration with Cromwell. Although Milton was Secretary for Foreign Tongues and official propagandist for Cromwell, he was not on the top of the list of those sought. However, he was arrested in 1659 and was to be executed if not for Andrew Marvell, his first assistant, and others who spoke on his behalf. On December 15 of the same year, John Milton was set free.

John then decided to live in retirement and devote his time poetry, publishing Paradise Lost in 1667, with this he gained universal fame. And just four years later, along with Samson Agonistes, he published Paradise Regained, a drama on the Greek model.

John Milton died in Chalfont, St. Giles, Buckinghamshire on November 8, 1674 and was buried beside his father in St. Giles' Cripplegate.

John Milton influenced many future poets including; Alexander Pope, John Keats, Lord Byron and especially the Romantic poets William Blake and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Poems by John Milton