John MiltonJohn Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual. His 1667 epic poem ''Paradise Lost'', written in blank verse and including over ten chapters, was written in a time of immense religious flux and political upheaval. It addressed the fall of man, including the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and God's expulsion of them from the Garden of Eden. ''Paradise Lost'' is widely considered one of the greatest works of literature ever written, and it elevated Milton's widely-held reputation as one of history's greatest poets. He also served as a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under its Council of State and later under Oliver Cromwell.
Writing in English, Latin, and Italian, Milton achieved global fame and recognition during his lifetime; his celebrated ''Areopagitica'' (1644), written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship, is among history's most influential and impassioned defences of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. His desire for freedom extended beyond his philosophy and was reflected in his style, which included his introduction of new words (coined from Latin and Ancient Greek) to the English language. He was the first modern writer to employ unrhymed verse outside of the theatre or translations.
Milton is described as the "greatest English author" by biographer William Hayley, and he remains generally regarded "as one of the preeminent writers in the English language", though critical reception has oscillated in the centuries since his death often on account of his republicanism. Samuel Johnson praised ''Paradise Lost'' as "a poem which...with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind", though he (a Tory) described Milton's politics as those of an "acrimonious and surly republican". Milton was revered by poets such as William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Thomas Hardy.
Phases of Milton's life parallel the major historical and political divisions in Stuart England at the time. In his early years, Milton studied at Christ's College at the University of Cambridge, one of the world's most prestigious universities, and then travelled, wrote poetry mostly for private circulation, and launched a career as pamphleteer and publicist under Charles I's increasingly autocratic rule and Britain's breakdown into constitutional confusion and ultimately civil war. While once considered dangerously radical and heretical, Milton contributed to a seismic shift in accepted public opinions during his life that ultimately elevated him to public office in England. The Restoration of 1660 and his loss of vision later deprived Milton much of his public platform, but he used the period to develop many of his major works.
Milton's views developed from extensive reading, travel, and experience that began with his days as a student at Cambridge in the 1620s and continued through the English Civil War, which started in 1642 and continued through 1651. By the time of his death in 1674, Milton was impoverished and on the margins of English intellectual life but famous throughout Europe and unrepentant for political choices that placed him at odds with governing authorities. Provided by Wikipedia