John Milton was born December 9, 1608 in London.
Milton went totally blind in 1652.
His second wife, Katherine and infant daughter died during childbirth in 1658.
Milton began writing Paradise Lost in 1658 entirely through dictation to a series of aides with the help of friends, often ill and suffering from gout.
Milton then remarried in 1663, completing his biblical epic poem in 1664 with a total of over 10,000 individual lines of verse.
On April 27, 1667, Milton sold publication rights to Paradise Lost to publisher Samuel Simmons for £5 with a further £5 to be paid if and when each print run of between 1,300 and 1,500 copies sold out.
The first edition run was published in ten books, priced at three shillings per copy, was published in August 1667 and sold out in eighteen months.
Paradise Lost reflected Milton’s personal despair, yet affirmed an ultimate optimism in human potential.
The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
Milton’s purpose, as stated in Book I, was to “justify the ways of God to men”.
Paradise Lost is considered by critics to be Milton’s “major work,” and the work helped to solidify his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time.
A second edition followed in 1674, changed into twelve books with minor revisions throughout.
By the time of John Milton’s death November 4, 1674, he was again impoverished and on the margins of English intellectual life, yet famous throughout Europe.
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