- Milton, John
- ( 1608-167 4)British Puritan poetJohn Milton was born on December 9, 1608, in London to a well-to-do family. His father was a scrivener (law writer) who also composed music. John Milton studied for the Anglican priesthood at Christ's College at Cambridge University while writing poetry. After graduating in 1632, he dropped any plans for the ministry. He continued to write while pursuing studies in foreign languages and traveled across Europe. Among those he met was astronomer Galileo Galilei.in 1639, Milton settled in London and opened a school. During the revolution and the Puritan Commonwealth, he dropped his poetic writing and focused on political pamphleteering, writing works advocating an end to bishops, defending freedom of the press, and supporting the execution of Charles I. His position that the people had the right to depose and punish unjust rulers was echoed a century later in the founding documents of the United States. He assumed an official position in the Commonwealth government as secretary for foreign languages.in 1642, Milton married for the first time. When his wife moved back to her former home after only a few weeks, Milton wrote his famous essays defending divorce. in another book, largely unknown today, he advocated polygamy as an alternative to divorce.Milton became blind in 1651, which did not prevent his arrest as a leading supporter of the Commonwealth following the ascendancy of Charles II in 1660. While he spent only a short time in custody, upon release he found himself poverty stricken. in 1662, he moved to what is now Burnhill Row in London, where he resided for the rest of his life, dictating his most famous works, Paradise Lost and Paradise Found. Paradise Lost, based on the Genesis story of the Garden of Eden, concerns the fall of Satan and humanity Paradise Found (1674), based on Luke 4:1-4, reflects on Christ's temptation leading to the end of Satan's reign. Both remain classics of English literature as well as statements of British Puritanism, though Milton was always an independent thinker. He died at his family home in Buckinghamshire on November 8, 1674.Further reading:■ Note: Milton studies have flourished in the 20th century, and entrance into both the primary texts and recent scholarly works is provided by John T. Shawcross, Milton: A Bibliography for the Years 1624-1700 (1984) and Paul J. Klemp, The Essential Milton: An Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern Studies (1989)■ John Broadbent, John Milton: Introductions. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973)■ Cedric Brown, John Milton: A Literary Life (New York: St. Martin's, 1995)■ Douglas Bush, John Milton: A Sketch of His Life and Writings (New York: Macmillan, 1964)■ John Milton, John Milton: The Complete Poems, Penguin English Poets, ed. by John Leonard (London: Penguin, 1998)■ Don M. Wolfe, Milton and His England (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1971).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.