John Milton (1608–74) was an English poet and writer; he was the chief literary spokesman for the Puritan revolution. An intensely religious Protestant, Milton's most famous work is the epic poem Paradise Lost. Many experts consider it the greatest epic poem in the English language. The poem was written in "blank verse" (meaning without rhyme, but often in rhythmic iambic pentameter) in 1658–63, when Milton was totally blind.
He was a graduate of Christ's College, Cambridge.
He was an opponent of King Charles I and a leading spokesman for Oliver Cromwell. In politics he advocated republicanism and a form of Libertarianism. Kings were not needed to make a nation, he argued, because it was the virtue of the people that mattered:
- The happiness of a nation consists in true religion, piety, justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude and the contempt of avarice and ambition. They in whomsoever these virtues dwell eminently, need not kings to make them happy, but are the architects of their own happiness, and whether to themselves or others are not less kings.
Milton's Areopagitica (1644) strongly condemned the censorship of ideas and has become a canonical work regarding freedom of speech. In 1651 he became the chief of censorship for the new government, but used a light hand, suppressing only hose publications which directly incited the overthrow of the government. The Cromwellian system collapsed in 1660 with the Restoration of King Charles II, and Milton went into retirement to write his poem.
- Bradford, Richard. The Complete Critical Guide to John Milton (2001) online edition
- Richmond, H. The Christian Revolutionary: John Milton (1974)
- Wedgwood, C.V. Milton and his world (1969) good introduction
- [http://www.questia.com/library/literature/literature-of-specific-countries/british-literature/17th-century/john-milton.jsp online books and articles on Milton)
- Areopagitica text and commentary from Dartmouth College
- Paradise Lost text and commentary from Dartmouth College
- "An Interview with Leland Ryken about Milton’s Paradise Lost" The Gospel Center Dec. 9, 2008 Ryken is professor at Wheaton College, an Evangelical center
- "Milton" with Professor John Rogers complete Yale course on Milton; 24 lectures; full text and video online free
- Works by John Milton - text and free audio - LibriVox