John Milton short Biography

John Milton Profile

Full Name: John Milton

Birth Date: 9 December 1608

Birth Place: Bread Street, Cheapside, London, England

Death Date:  8 November 1674

Death Place: Bunhill, London, England

Cause of Death: Gout

Death Age : 65

Buried Place : St Giles-without-Cripplegate

Blindness: 1652

Occupation: Poet, Prose Polemicist, Civil servant

Language Skills: English, Latin, French, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Aramaic, Syriac

Poetic style :
                      1. Miltonic verse
                      2. Miltonic epic
                      3. Miltonic blank verse,

Alma mater: Christ's College, Cambridge

Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius

Parents: Sarah Jeffrey (mother), John Milton Senior (Father)

Siblings :
               1. Tabitha Milton (Sister)
               2. Christopher Milton (Brother)
               3. Anne Milton (Sister)
               4. Sara Milton (Sister)

Spouse (s): Three
                      1. Mary Powell (m. 1642; died 1652)
                      2. Katherine Woodcock (m.1656; died 1658)
                      3. Elizabeth Mynshull (m. 1663)

Children: Five

                  1. John Powell Milton (Son)
                  2. Katherine Milton (Daughter)
                  3. Deborah Powell Milton (Daughter)
                  4. Mary Powell Milton (Daughter)
                  5. Annie Powell Milton (Daughter

Close Friend: Charles Diodati


1. Paradise Lost
2. Paradise Regained
3. L'Allegro
4. Il Penseroso
5. Comus
6. Lycidas
7. On the Morning of Christ's Nativity
8. The antiprelatical pamphlets Of Reformation Touching Church
9. Discipline in England
10. Prelatical Episcopacy
11. Animadversions
12. The Reason of Church Government
13. Apology for Smeetymrus, and the divorce pamphlets-
14. Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce
15. The Judgement of Martin Bucer
16. Tetrachordon and Celasterion
17. Of Education
18. Areopagitica
19. The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates
20. Eiconoklastes
21. Defensio Propopulo
22. Defensio Secunda
23. Defersio pro-Se

Milton Early Life And Education

John Milton is considered the greatest poet after Shakespeare. He was born in London in Bread Street on the 9th December 1608. His father was a scrivener (notary public), who had embraced the Puritan faith. But whose Puritanism was not of the hard and forbidding type. His father at an early age destined Milton to the “study of letters”.
He received his early childhood education at home under private tutors. Then he was admitted to St. Paul's School, perhaps in 1620. 

Milton became a obedient student first at St. Paul's School, then at Christ's College, Cambridge. At school, he studied Latin and Greek besides his subject. In 1625, Milton matriculated at Christ's College Cambridge. He obtained his  BA degree in 1629 and his MA in 1632 at the same university.

Milton wrote the earliest of his English poems “On the Death of a Fair Infant” in 1628. His great poem in English was “On the Morning of Christ's Nativity” probably in the long vacation of 1631. After taking his MA degree, Milton went to stay at his father's country house at Horton. After leaving Cambridge, he lived with his father in studious retirement at Horton.

In 1637, Milton's mother died and the poet set out eighteen months on the continental tour of Europe in 1638. In April of this year, he reached Italy. So, he returned to England in 1639. Returning to England, he took up the cudgels against the established Church and on behalf of freedom of the press. He resolved to throw himself to the civil war to secure civil and religious liberty of his countrymen.

From 1640 onward, Milton was increasingly active as a supporter of the Puritan cause against the Royalist. As a pamphleteer, he became indeed one of the great pillars of that cause, and on the establishment of the commonwealth was appointed Latin Secretary to the committee for Foreign Affairs.


In 1642, Milton went Into the country on a commission for his father, met Mary Powell. In 1643, Milton married Mary Powell, the young daughter of a royalist, but the union proved a most unhappy one. In 1649, Charles I was executed and Milton wrote his political tract Tenure of Kings and Magistrates in which he supported the execution of the deposed king.

He lost his eyesight in 1652, the year of the death of his first wife. He married for the second time in 1656, a third time in 1663. Then came the Restoration in 1660. With this began a period of dishonour and danger in the life of the poet. Charles II was restored to the throne. The poet was arrested but he was released under the Act of Amnesty and Oblivion.

Milton now retired to his solitary abode and once again devoted himself to the service of poetry. He wrote about twenty-five pamphlets on the current social, political problems. The Paradise Lost was completed in 1663. Its sequel Paradise Regained followed in 1665. Finally, in 1667. came the masterpiece of classical tragedy “Samson Agonistes.”

He died on the 8th of November 1679.

John Milton Literary Career

Milton's literary career is divided into three periods, and the poems he composed during these periods have great importance in the history of English literature.
1. The First Period (1629-1640)
2. The Second Period (1640-1660)
3. The Third Period (1660-1674)

1. The First Period (1629-1640)

The first period is popularly known as the Horton period. In this period there are the poetical features of a belated Elizabethan in Milton. But the Puritanic note is manifest even in these early poems. Both the Renaissance exuberance and the reformist excitement are seen in his early works.

John Milton short Biography

The main literary works of the first period are-
1. Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity
2. On the Death of a Fair Infant
3. Two sonnets O Nightingale and
4. How Soon hath time and five Italian ones-
5. Arcades, Comus
6. L' Allegro
7. II Penseroso and
8. Lycidas.

2. The Second Period (1640-1660)
The Second Period extends from 1640 to 1660. The period of the important constitutional struggles, John Milton's poetic career was largely held in abeyance during this period and he was mainly engaged in writing controversial pamphlets during this time. This is also the period of his sonnets, every one of which is a gem in the quarry of English poetry. They form a noble autobiography of Milton and show that a change has come over his literary career.

The literary works of this second period are:

1. The antiprelatical pamphlets Of Reformation Touching Church
2. Discipline in England
3. Prelatical Episcopacy
4. Animandversions
5. The Reason of Church Government
6. Apology for Smeetymrus, and the divorce pamphlets-
7. Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce
8. The Judgement of Martin Bucer
9. Tetrachordon and Celasterion
10. Of Education
11. Areopagitica
12. The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates
13. Eiconoklastes
14. Defensio Propopulo
15. Defensio Secunda
16. Defersio pro Se

The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Common Wealth and the remaining Sixteen English sonnets.

3. The Third Period (1660-1674)
The Third Period 1660-1674 is the period of the great poems o Milton. The storm has blown over, the old, blind, disappointed poet has seen much of life and things, This is the period of “Paradise Lost,” Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. The deeply spiritual, import, soul-stirring music, political symbolism, serious elevation, magnificent diction etc. Of these poems show that Milton's poetic power is at its highest.

The theme of Milton Poetry

The first and the most remarkable element in Milton's poetry is his lofty theme. Like his character, his poetry has a sort of loftiness in its theme. In his earlier poem as well as later, in his lyrics as well as epics, his subjects matter is always noble and inspiring. Milton himself once remarked that great poetry must be “simple, sensuous and passionate”. His own poetry well illustrates the truth of his contention. All his poems and epics well demonstrate the happy combination of simplicity, sensuousness, and impulsiveness in great poetry.

Milton contribution of literature

Milton's significance in the history of English literature can hardly be assessed within a brief space, and the most conspicuous contribution of his creative art to English literature is his great epics “Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained” published in 1667 and 167 respectively. He stands here singular and superior to other poets in his language as the founder of the modern epic. The subject matters, chosen by him, are grand, unique, ‘unattempted in prose and verse before.’ His arguments are highly moral and idealistic - “to justify the ways of God to men” - and to signify the redemption of humanity through the sacrifice of “One Great Man.” Milton indeed has shown to his literary successors that even great epics are possible in a modern period, and he remains the first and the greatest modern epic poet in English.

Milton Personality

John Milton is one of those poets whose personality and character are indelibly stamped upon their poetry. Milton's poetry is unseverable from Milton the man. The supreme quality of his poetry is sublimity. Milton lived a life of austerity and purity his poetry bears the unmistakable stamp of the nobility of his character. All that comes out from his pen is characterized by dignity and stateliness. His poetry exercises an elevating influence on the mind of the reader. He gives us an impression of moral exaltation.

Milton's Humanist and Puritan

The first thing that strikes in Milton's poetic personality is that he combines in himself what is best in classical and in Christian culture. If, on the one hand, he had the humanist's scholarship, culture, refinement, love for beauty, and love of art and music; on the other hand, he possessed the moral earnestness and religious zeal of the Puritan. He always insisted on the purity and simplicity of private life. He was a man of lofty ideals and his life was a constant endeavour to live up to them.

Milton Stern lover of Liberty

Milton was a stern lover of liberty. He was an UN-compromising upholder of the liberty of individual conscience and was intolerant of the forces which aimed to suppress it. He fought against the monarchy, because monarchy aimed to destroy the civil liberties of the people, and assumed divine right to rule the people.

He denounced the church because the church aimed to impose upon the people a particular mode of worship, tyrannised over them and was corrupt.

Milton noble conception of Poet's Vocation

John Milton had a noble idea of the poet's vocation. According to John Milton, a poet's life should be “a true poem” that is a poet should live a pure and chaste life. According to Milton poetry was a sacred vocation, and he always regarded his life as one dedicated to the purest and noblest ideals.

He never lots the sight of his life's mission.
And it is in his later poems- in his monumental Paradise Lost. Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes that Milton's style reaches the Olympian height and secures for him a sure place among the great masters of Muses-Homer, Dante and Shakespeare.

In imagery and music, in force and cadence, those later works illustrate Milton's unique genius and assert his position as one of the greatest poets in the English language. Milton's grand style, which is almost proverbial, is a unique asset for English literature and constitutes one of the grandest elements in English for all times.

Milton Significant in Literature

John Milton's significance in English literature is also found as a sonneteer. Here he is as original as Shakespeare. Though his sonnets scrupulously follow the technique of the great classical master, Petrarch, they do not follow the beaten track of the conventional Petrarchan sonneteers. The conventional theme of love is no more the province of Miltonic sonnets.

The themes of Miltonic sonnets are patriotism, Christian piety, love for liberty, love for beauty and so on. Along with Shakespeare, Milton surely deserves the place of an innovator in the treatment of different subjects other than love, in Sonnets.

As an author of prose in English literature, Milton survey occupies a high position. He is the most stirring literary figure in the English prose of the Puritan age. He is not merely a great poet, also a mighty maker of English prose. He is found to possess in prose a rich and racy style that is at once emphatic and impressive.

His most celebrated prose work is Areopagitica published in 1644. This work is a clarion call for the liberty of the press by one who remained over a great defender of liberty, religious, political or civil. The work is cast in the form of an address to parliament for the liberty of unlicensed printing. Milton's passion for liberty is deep and warm, and rings powerfully in his demand-

Give me the liberty to know and to argue freely according to my conscience, above all liberties.

This is really a monumental specimen of rich, impulsive English prose, Areopagitica is found invigorated with an inspiring theme and telling style, characteristic of Milton. It is enlivened with a flowing and poetic style and possesses all those qualities which give distinctions to his poetry. Milton remains a master of English prose, and his significance in English literature is truly great in this respect.

To sum up, we can say that ardent love of learning, intolerance of tyranny and corruption in all forms, intense love of liberty and fanatical zeal to fight for it, high seriousness of purpose - all these combined with a broad culture and high scholarship are some of the features that distinguish Milton from others.

Long years of continuous struggle, no doubt made him bitter, and at places, his work shows the narrowness of outlook born of his bitterness, but the nobility and purity of his character and his fortitude and piety are stamped everywhere in his writings.

All the writings reflect the personality of the poet and show his classical and puritanical bent of mind. Milton experiments in versification and his skilful use of figures of speech not only show his originality but also secure to him a niche in the mansion of history of English poetry.

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