John Milton Timeline
How It All Went Down
John Milton Born
John Milton is born in London to parents John and Sara Jeffrey Milton. His father is a scrivener by trade - a person whose job is to be able to read and write - who also dabbles as a composer of church music.
Twelve-year-old Milton enrolls at St. Paul's School in London.
Milton enrolls at Christ's Church College at Cambridge University.
John Milton gets suspended from college after an argument with his tutor William Chappell. He returns to his family in London and begins to write his first poetry. He eventually goes back to Cambridge, but is assigned a new tutor.
Milton composes the poem "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" on Christmas morning at Cambridge.
Milton graduates from Cambridge with an M.A. degree. Because of his family's comfortable financial status, he does not have to seek immediate employment but settles into family homes in London and Buckinghamshire to study and write poetry. His poem "On Shakespeare" is published soon after.
Milton's play in praise of chastity performs for the first time at Ludlow Castle.
Milton's mother Sara Jeffrey Milton dies and is buried in the town of Horton.
Milton writes the poem Lycidas as an elegy for his friend Edward King, who drowned three months earlier.
In the spring, Milton sets out for a tour of France, Switzerland, and Italy. He is forced to return home in July 1639 as rumors swell of civil war in England.
Elegy For Friend
Milton composes the poem Epitaphium Damonis as an elegy for his best childhood friend, Charles Diodati, who died during Milton's European tour.
As the civil war between England's Parliamentarians and Royalists heats up, the pro-Parliamentarian Milton publishes the political tract Of Reformation, Animadversions, Of Prelatical Episcopacy and The Reason for Church Government.
Thirty-four-year-old Milton marries seventeen-year-old Mary Powell. The match is not a good one, and Mary soon returns to her family's home. Despite the acrimonious start to their ten-year marriage, the couple eventually conceives three daughters and a son.
Unhappy in his marriage, Milton writes a pamphlet condemning England's divorce laws entitled Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, followed by The Judgment of Martin Bucer Concerning Divorce. The so-called "Divorce Tracts" earn Milton the derisive nickname "Milton the Divorcer."
After the Stationers' Company attempts to censor Milton's Judgment of Martin Bucer, he publishes the impassioned tract Areopagitica in support of a free press.
After an apparent rapprochement in their relationship, Mary gives birth to the couple's first child, daughter Anne.
Milton's father John dies.
The Miltons' second child, a daughter named Mary, is born.
Execution of Charles I
King Charles I is publicly beheaded, ushering in a republican government led by Oliver Cromwell. Milton supports the removal of the king.
Milton is appointed Secretary for the Foreign Tongues, an official position in the English government handling diplomatic correspondence. He receives a salary and lodgings at Scotland Yard.
Mary Powell Milton gives birth to the couple's son John.
After years of diminishing eyesight likely caused by glaucoma, Milton becomes totally blind.
Loses Wife, Then Son
Milton's wife Mary dies three days after giving birth to the couple's fourth child, daughter Deborah. His young son John dies soon after.
Milton marries his second wife, Katherine Woodcock.
Loses Wife and Daughter
Milton's second wife, Katherine Woodcock, dies four months after giving birth to the couple's only child, a daughter named Katherine. Soon after, the baby girl dies as well.
Following the restoration of Charles II to the English throne, Milton is arrested and imprisoned for about two months.
Over the objections of his daughters, Milton marries his third wife, Elizabeth Minshull.
Milton's masterpiece Paradise Lost is published to immediate acclaim and astonishment. The poet and critic John Dryden is said to have remarked, "This man cuts us all out, and the ancients too."31
Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes
Milton publishes - in one volume - the poems Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes.
John Milton Dies
John Milton dies of gout and is buried in St. Giles Church in the Cripplegate neighborhood of London. A memorial to Milton is placed in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.