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John Milton

John Milton

John Milton Timeline

How It All Went Down

Dec 9, 1608

John Milton Born

John Milton is born in London to parents John and Sara Jeffrey Milton. His father is a scrivener by trade - a person whose job is to be able to read and write - who also dabbles as a composer of church music.

1620

Starts School

Twelve-year-old Milton enrolls at St. Paul's School in London.

1625

Enters College

Milton enrolls at Christ's Church College at Cambridge University.

1626

Suspended!

John Milton gets suspended from college after an argument with his tutor William Chappell. He returns to his family in London and begins to write his first poetry. He eventually goes back to Cambridge, but is assigned a new tutor.

Dec 25, 1629

Writes "Morning"

Milton composes the poem "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" on Christmas morning at Cambridge.

1632

Graduates

Milton graduates from Cambridge with an M.A. degree. Because of his family's comfortable financial status, he does not have to seek immediate employment but settles into family homes in London and Buckinghamshire to study and write poetry. His poem "On Shakespeare" is published soon after.

Sep 29, 1634

Comus

Milton's play in praise of chastity performs for the first time at Ludlow Castle.

Apr 1637

Mother Dies

Milton's mother Sara Jeffrey Milton dies and is buried in the town of Horton.

Nov 1637

Lycidas

Milton writes the poem Lycidas as an elegy for his friend Edward King, who drowned three months earlier.

1638

Tours Europe

In the spring, Milton sets out for a tour of France, Switzerland, and Italy. He is forced to return home in July 1639 as rumors swell of civil war in England.

Jul 1639

Elegy For Friend

Milton composes the poem Epitaphium Damonis as an elegy for his best childhood friend, Charles Diodati, who died during Milton's European tour.

1641

Political Writings

As the civil war between England's Parliamentarians and Royalists heats up, the pro-Parliamentarian Milton publishes the political tract Of Reformation, Animadversions, Of Prelatical Episcopacy and The Reason for Church Government.

1642

Marriage

Thirty-four-year-old Milton marries seventeen-year-old Mary Powell. The match is not a good one, and Mary soon returns to her family's home. Despite the acrimonious start to their ten-year marriage, the couple eventually conceives three daughters and a son.

1643

Divorce Tracts

Unhappy in his marriage, Milton writes a pamphlet condemning England's divorce laws entitled Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, followed by The Judgment of Martin Bucer Concerning Divorce. The so-called "Divorce Tracts" earn Milton the derisive nickname "Milton the Divorcer."

1644

Areopagitica

After the Stationers' Company attempts to censor Milton's Judgment of Martin Bucer, he publishes the impassioned tract Areopagitica in support of a free press.

1646

Daughter Born

After an apparent rapprochement in their relationship, Mary gives birth to the couple's first child, daughter Anne.

1647

Father Dies

Milton's father John dies.

1648

Daughter Born

The Miltons' second child, a daughter named Mary, is born.

Jan 30, 1640

Execution of Charles I

King Charles I is publicly beheaded, ushering in a republican government led by Oliver Cromwell. Milton supports the removal of the king.

Mar 15, 1640

Official Position

Milton is appointed Secretary for the Foreign Tongues, an official position in the English government handling diplomatic correspondence. He receives a salary and lodgings at Scotland Yard.

1651

Son Born

Mary Powell Milton gives birth to the couple's son John.

Feb 1652

Loses Sight

After years of diminishing eyesight likely caused by glaucoma, Milton becomes totally blind.

May 5, 1652

Loses Wife, Then Son

Milton's wife Mary dies three days after giving birth to the couple's fourth child, daughter Deborah. His young son John dies soon after.

Nov 12, 1656

Remarriage

Milton marries his second wife, Katherine Woodcock.

Feb 3, 1658

Loses Wife and Daughter

Milton's second wife, Katherine Woodcock, dies four months after giving birth to the couple's only child, a daughter named Katherine. Soon after, the baby girl dies as well.

1659

Prison

Following the restoration of Charles II to the English throne, Milton is arrested and imprisoned for about two months.

1663

Third Marriage

Over the objections of his daughters, Milton marries his third wife, Elizabeth Minshull.

1667

Paradise Lost

Milton's masterpiece Paradise Lost is published to immediate acclaim and astonishment. The poet and critic John Dryden is said to have remarked, "This man cuts us all out, and the ancients too."31

1671

Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes

Milton publishes - in one volume - the poems Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes.

Nov 8, 1674

John Milton Dies

John Milton dies of gout and is buried in St. Giles Church in the Cripplegate neighborhood of London. A memorial to Milton is placed in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

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