John Milton – Biography / Chronology / Timeline

1608 John Milton (JM) born 9 December in Bread Street, London.

1620 JM enters St. Paul’s School, where he will begin his friendship with Charles Diodati.

1625 JM admitted to Christ’s College Cambridge, where some of his first published poems will be written.

1630 Edward King (later the subject of ‘Lycidas’) elected to fellowship at Christ’s.

1632 JM takes M.A. and retires to Horton for several years of private study. ‘On Shakespeare’ published.

1634 Comus performed.

1637 Comus published.

Click for Ernest Hemingway’s chronology of his life and works


1638 Lycidas published. JM sails for France (May). Arrives in Italy (August–September), attends Barberini concert and meets, amongst others, Galileo and Frescobaldi. Charles Diodati dies (August).

1639 JM goes to Geneva and meets John Diodati, Calvinist theologian and uncle of late Charles. Returns to England (July).

1641 JM begins to publish political and religious pamphlets, including Animadversions and Of Reformation.

1642 JM marries Mary Powell who, later that year, returns to her family near Oxford, probably because of the recently begun Civil War. (Her family were Royalist, while JM and much of London favoured the Parliamentarians.) Apology for Smectymnuus published.

1643 Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce published.

1644 Of Education and Areopagitica published.

1645 Tetrachordon and Colasterion published. Wife Mary returns.

1646 Poems published. Daughter Anne born.

1647 Father dies, leaving JM a ‘moderate estate’.

1648 Daughter Mary born.

Execution of Charles I

1649 JM appointed Secretary for Foreign Tongues in the victorious Cromwellian government. Tenure of Kings and Magistrates published (February) shortly after the execution of Charles I. Eikonoklastes published.

1651 Defensio pro populo Anglicano published. Son John born.

1652 Deaths of wife Mary, daughter Deborah and son John. Becomes totally blind.

1655 JM semi-retires from Secretaryship and returns to private study, possibly involving early planning for Paradise Lost and De Doctrina.

1656 Marries Katherine Woodcock.

1657 Daughter Katherine born.

1658 Wife dies.

1659 Cromwell dies. A Treatise of Civil Power published.

1660 Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth published shortly before the Restoration of Charles II as monarch. JM’s books burned in public (August) and JM arrested (October). Released (December) following the intervention of Marvell and others.

1663 JM takes house in Bunhill Fields, London, where he will produce most of his later writings, with the practical assistance in dictation of his remaining daughters and others. Marries Elizabeth Minshull.

Satan in Paradise Lost

1667 Paradise Lost published.

1670 History of Britain published.

1671 Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes published, the latter thought by some to have been written during the 1650s.

1673 Of True Religion published, Poems, etc. upon Several Occasions published, including many of JM’s political sonnets from the 1640s and 1650s.

1674 Second edition of Paradise Lost (now 12 rather than 10 books) published. JM dies in Bunhill house and is buried in St. Giles, Cripplegate, on 12 November.

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