By Tim Lambert

John Milton was a great English writer of the 17th Century. Milton was also a great believer in liberty. Milton was born in Bread Street in London on 9 December 1608. His father also called John was a scrivener (a man who wrote contracts and other legal documents). His mother was called Sarah. John Milton senior also composed music. From an early age John Milton Junior also loved music. From the age of 12 he was sent to St Paul's school. In 1625 Milton went to Cambridge University. He was awarded a BA in 1629 and an MA in 1632. After leaving university Milton continued studying at home. He also wrote poetry. In 1629 Milton wrote a poem called On the Morning of Christ's Nativity. In 1634 a masque by John Milton called Comus was performed. (In the early 17th century a masque was a form of entertainment for the rich. It involved, drama, music and dance). In 1638 a famous poem by Milton called Lycidas was published.

In 1638-39 Milton traveled in France and Italy and he met Galileo. In 1639 Milton returned to England he became a schoolteacher in London.

In 1642 civil war began between king and parliament. John Milton was a strong supporter of freedom so naturally he supported parliament. In 1642 Milton wrote pamphlets attacking episcopacy (the belief that the church should have bishops). In 1643 he wrote a pamphlet arguing that divorce should be allowed and in 1644 he wrote a pamphlet in favor of freedom of speech. Following the execution of King Charles I in 1649 John Milton wrote material supporting the Commonwealth (the republican government that ruled from 1649 to 1660). Milton also worked for the government translating documents into Latin.

Tragically in 1652 Milton went blind. However in 1667 his great work Paradise Lost was first printed. It deals with the rebellion of Adam and Eve against God and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. In 1671 another work by Milton, Paradise Regained was published. Meanwhile Milton was married 3 times. John Milton died on 8 November 1674 aged 65. He was buried in St Giles Church in Cripplegate, London. Today he is remembered as the greatest English writer of the 17th century.

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