An Uncommon Stock of Learning

Cambridge, 1627–9

A student in seventeenth-century Cambridge usually left his mark in the university records, as distinct from those of his college, only when matriculating and graduating. Early in 1629, after four years as an undergraduate, Milton supplicated, or made a formal request, to proceed to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. The set formula for supplication was sometimes written out by the student himself, before being endorsed by a fellow of his college. Milton’s autograph ‘supplicat’ is the second from the foot of this page, and bears the signature of John Fenwick, who had been admitted as a fellow of Christ’s College in the preceding year.

Cambridge University Archives, Supplicats for degrees, Supplicats 22, ff. 330v–1


Subscription book
Cambridge, 1613–38

As a means of promoting Anglican orthodoxy, from 1613 until the mid-nineteenth century (with a hiatus during the Civil War and Interregnum) recipients of Cambridge degrees were obliged to sign a declaration that they subscribed ‘willingly and ex animo’ to three articles of religion. This earliest subscription book contains two signatures of Milton, one for the Bachelor of Arts in 1629 and one, as exhibited, for the Master’s degree in 1632. The signatures are grouped by college; Milton’s is at the top of the left-hand column of those from Christ’s (‘Coll. Χρti’) on the left-hand page. As Gordon Campbell has written, ‘In signing the subscription book to take his MA, Milton once again acknowledged the liturgy and doctrine of the Church of England and the supremacy of the king; he was eventually to ignore the liturgy, repudiate several key aspects of the doctrine, and applaud the execution of the king to whom he had sworn allegiance.’

Cambridge University Archives, Books of subscriptions for degrees, Subscriptiones 1, pp. 377–8


Grace book
Cambridge, 1620–45

Cambridge degrees are approved by the University in Congregation through the acceptance by vote of a proposal termed a ‘grace’. The grace books record the approved graces, and accordingly contain lists of graduates’ names. The award of Milton’s Master of Arts degree in 1632 is shown by the presence of his name in the set under ‘Coll. Χρti’ on the right-hand page of this volume; the grace for the award of his Bachelor’s degree occurs on page 158. Supplicats and subscriptions are evidence of an intention to graduate, but the grace book record is proof of the award of the degree.

Cambridge University Archives, University Grace Books, Grace Book Z, pp. 223–4


John Milton (1608–1674)
Poems, &c. upon several occasions
London: printed for Thomas Dring, 1673
Joannis Miltonii Angli, epistolarum familiarium liber unus: quibus accesserunt, eiusdem, iam olim in collegio adolescentis, prolusiones quædam oratoriae
London: Brabazon Aylmer, 1674

Towards the end of his life Milton published seven ‘prolusiones quædam oratoriae’ (speeches forming part of the university training) as a makeweight to a selection of his letters, and included a set of couplets titled ‘At a vacation exercise in the colledge’ in a collection of his shorter poems. These pieces illuminate both the academic exercises in which Milton participated, and the nature of organised student entertainments: the sixth prolusion is thought to be a performance given at a ‘salting’, or boisterous initiation ceremony for freshmen, and the poem a continuation of the same oration in the English language, which, as Milton teased, his audience preferred to Latin.

Syn.8.67.10, pp. 64–5
Syn.8.67.40, pp. 66–7


John Milton (1608–1674)
Joannis Miltoni Angli pro populo Anglicano defensio secunda. Contra infamem libellum anonymum cui titulus, Regii sanguinis clamor ad cœlum adversus parricidas Anglicanos
London: typis Neucomianis, 1654

During the Interregnum, when Milton was drawn into controversy with Royalist pamphleteers, he defended himself against the charge that he had been ‘vomited forth for his profligacy from the University of Cambridge’: that is to say, expelled. Milton was briefly rusticated after a disagreement with his tutor, but soon returned. He later claimed that, unlike many undergraduates, he had never visited brothels, and in the Defensio secunda [‘Second defence’] averred that during his time in Cambridge he had been ‘pure from every blemish and possessed of the universal esteem of the good’, and that on his departure he left behind ‘a memory cherished with affection by the greater part of the fellows of my college, who had always assiduously cultivated my regard.’

Syn.8.65.50, pp. 82–3


William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
Comedies, histories, and tragedies. Published according to the true originall copies
London: printed by Thomas Cotes for Robert Allot, 1632

Milton’s ‘Epitaph’, published in the second folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays, was his first poem to be published. Revised versions appeared in the 1640 edition of Shakespeare’s poems and, under the title ‘On Shakespear. 1630’, in Milton’s collection of his own poetry published in 1645. The existence in some copies of the second folio of a variant of the fourth line, reading ‘starre-ypointed’ instead of ‘starre-ypointing’, has been seized on by a subset of those who dislike the idea of Shakespeare having written his own works, since ‘starre-ypointed Pyramid’ might be supposed to represent a beacon, and be a punning reference to (Sir Francis) Bacon.

SSS.10.7, [A6v–A5]


Collection of poetry
England, c. 1630s–[40s?]

Milton is less associated than many other seventeenth-century poets with the circulation of poems in manuscript, but his verse is not entirely absent from the commonplace-book activity typical of university students. The death on 1 January 1631 of Thomas Hobson, the university carrier, or coachman, occasioned a number of more or less facetious commemorative poems; the one titled ‘Another of old Hobson…’ commencing in the middle of the left-hand page of this manuscript is one of a pair of which Milton acknowledged authorship, and the poem above it has also been cautiously attributed to him. Hobson is remembered in Cambridge for the conduit, and further afield for the term ‘Hobson’s choice’: take the next in line or none at all.

St John’s College, Cambridge, MS S.32, ff. 18v–19
By kind permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge


Dio Chrysostom (c. 40–c. 112)
Διωνος του Χρυσοστομου λογοι π [Diōnos tou Chrysostomou logoi p]. Dionis Chrysostomi orationes LXXX. Cum vetustis codd. MSS. Reg. Bibliothecæ, sedulo collatæ, eorúmque ope ab innumeris mendis liberatæ, restitutæ, auctæ. Photii excerptis, Synesiiq. censura illustratæ. Ex interpretatione Thomæ Nageorgi, accuratè recognita, recentata, & emendata Fed. Morelli Prof. Reg. opera. Cum Is. Casauboni diatriba, & eiusdem Morelli scholiis, animadversionibus & coniectaneis. Accessit rerum & verborum index locupletissimus
Lutetiæ [Paris]: ex officina typographica Claudii Morelli, 1604

Milton, unusually, paid due regard to a commitment made on graduating as Master of Arts to continue his studies for five years, and on leaving Cambridge retired to his father’s residences, first in Hammersmith and, from 1636, at Horton in Buckinghamshire, to pursue private study. This copy of Dio Chrysostom’s eighty orations bears Milton’s signature on a front endpaper, together with the date, 1636, and a note that it cost eighteen shillings. The book, now part of the Ely Cathedral Library, is one of only a handful positively identified as having belonged to Milton: he began to arrange the dispersal of his collection before his death, realising that his family had no use for such volumes.

Ely.a.272, [b iv v]–A



The Wedded State

John Milton (1608–1674)
The doctrine & discipline of divorce: restor’d to the good of both sexes, from the bondage of canon law, and other mistakes, to the true meaning of scripture in the law and gospel compar’d. Wherein also are set down the bad consequences of abolishing or condemning of sin, that which the law of God allowes, and Christ abolisht not. Now the second time revis’d and much augmented, in two books: to the Parlament of England with the Assembly
London: 1644

Milton’s first tract on divorce was published in August 1643, and this second edition, thoroughly revised, was issued the following February with a preface addressed to Parliament and the Westminster Assembly of divines. Milton attacked the narrowness of the grounds for divorce allowed by canon law, asserting instead that ‘indisposition, unfitnes, or contrariety of mind, arising from a cause in nature unchangeable, hindring and ever likely to hinder the main benefits of conjugall society, which are solace and peace’ were acceptable reasons for divorce, especially where there was mutual consent. His ideas prefigured the concept of ‘irretrievable breakdown’ which now forms the basis of English divorce law.

Bb*.11.10(E)6, [A4v]–1


John Milton (1608–1674)
Tetrachordon: expositions upon the foure chief places in scripture, which treat of mariage, or nullities of mariage…. Wherein the Doctrine and discipline of divorce, as was lately publish’d, is confirm’d by explanation of scripture, by testimony of ancient fathers, of civill lawes in the primitive church, of famousest reformed divines, and lastly, by an intended act of the Parlament and Church of England in the last yeare of Edward the Sixth
London: 1645

Tetrachordon [‘Four-stringed’] was published, simultaneously with Colasterion, in March 1645. Milton’s writings on divorce had been censured by Herbert Palmer, President of Queens’ College, Cambridge, in a sermon preached before Parliament in August 1644, in which he equated Milton’s call for reform of divorce law with pleas for the toleration of polygamy and incestuous marriage. In Tetrachordon, which was prefaced by an address to Parliament accusing Palmer of being either wilful or ignorant, Milton bolstered the arguments advanced in the Doctrine and discipline of divorce by an examination of scriptural and later authorities.

Bb*.10.14 (E)4, title page


Anne Manning (1807–1879)
The maiden & married life of Mary Powell, afterwards Mistress Milton London: printed for Hall, Virtue, & Co., 1849

Milton was never divorced (Mary Powell returned to him in 1645 and bore him four children), but his marital difficulties have formed an important strand in the construction of his character in the public mind. Manning’s novel, which treated the courtship and early married years of Milton’s first wife through a first-person diary narrative, went through numerous editions and translations. The vulnerability of a posthumous reputation in the hands of a fiction-maker is amply demonstrated by Manning’s approach: one reviewer criticised her historical novels as ‘a tissue of sentimental unrealities and falsehoods’, but Manning was vigorously unapologetic about any ‘impertinence towards him who dared put words e’en into the mouths of archangels’.

Nn.27.21, frontispiece and title page


Robert Graves (1895–1985)
The story of Marie Powell, wife to Mr. Milton
London: Cassell and Company, 1943

Wife to Mr. Milton was published with a factual epilogue, an appendix comprising documents relating to the Milton family’s role in the sequestration of Mary Powell’s father’s estate, a glossary of obsolete terms, and reproductions of a map and portrait. However much these may have lent it the air of a historical work, the hostility towards Milton which animates Graves’s entertaining fiction stemmed as much from the novelist’s theories of the shortcomings of Milton’s ‘Apollonian’ style of poetry, and disapproval of the ‘“undisguised Fascism”’ of the Cromwellian government he served, as from any factual information respecting Milton’s treatment of his wife.

1943.7.73, frontispiece and title page, and dust-wrapper


Eva Figes (b. 1932)
The tree of knowledge
London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1990

In The tree of knowledge, another first-person narrative, the character of Deborah, daughter of John and Mary Milton, reminisces about her upbringing from a penurious old age. The account of Milton’s relationship with his daughters is used to mount a feminist critique of the rights and education of women, and to address questions of patriarchy and oppression generally. Milton gets it in the neck, of course: the Deborah persona exhibits occasional benevolence towards her father, but overall he stands condemned for hypocrisy and misogyny. The dust-wrapper design incorporates William Blake’s painting Eve tempted by the serpent.

1990.8.5457, dust-wrapper



To Know, to Utter, and to Argue Freely: the Areopagitica

John Milton (1608–1674)
Areopagitica; a speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicenc’d printing, to the Parlament of England
London: 1644

Whereas Milton had been content to publish almost all his earlier pamphlets anonymously, or with only his initials on the title page, the first edition of the Areopagitica had his name written out in full, in capital letters. The typography signalled Milton’s assumption of responsibility for his address to authority: as William Riley Parker wrote, ‘the pamphlet, unlicensed and unregistered, was an avowed challenge to the Stationers Company, the Westminster Assembly, and the existing law of the Parliament.’ The tract was cast in the form of a classical oration, the Greek title implying an analogy between the Athenian court of the Areopagus and the English Parliament.

Syn.7.64.12133, title page


Questionably attributed to Charles Blount (1654–1693)
Reasons humbly offered for the liberty of unlicens’d printing. To which is subjoin’d, the just and true character of Edmund Bohun, the licenser of the press. In a letter from a gentleman in the country, to a member of Parliament
London: 1693

The 1667 title pages of the first edition of Paradise lost declared that the poem was ‘Licensed and Entred according to Order’, and indeed the Areopagitica had no practical effect on the licensing law during Milton’s lifetime. His ideas resurfaced later in the seventeenth century, however, and under the Whig ascendancy established by the revolutionary settlement of 1689 the restrictive provisions of the Licensing Act were allowed to lapse. Reasons humbly offered, published anonymously (but with the initials ‘J. M.’) two years before the measure expired, incorporated with only slight amendments several sections of the Areopagitica.

Bb*.9.38(E)8, title page


George Walker (1734?–1807)
Substance of the speech of the Rev. Mr. Walker, at the general meeting of the county of Nottingham, held at Mansfield, on Monday the 28th of February 1780. To which is added, Mr. Thomson’s preface to a speech of Mr. John Milton, for the liberty of unlicensed printing, to the Parliament of England. First published in the year 1644
London: printed and distributed gratis by the Society for Constitutional Information, 1780

The Stage Licensing Act of 1737 introduced a requirement for dramatic productions to be approved by the Lord Chamberlain before being staged. The Scottish poet and playwright James Thomson, who had recently published his poem Liberty, contributed a preface to Andrew Millar’s 1738 edition of the Areopagitica, defending ‘the absolute unbounded freedom of writing and publishing’. The preface was reprinted in 1780 by the Society for Constitutional Information, an organisation which aimed, in the words of one of its members, John Jebb, ‘to diffuse, among the commonalty of this island, the knowledge of those political rights and privileges, which are immediately connected with the enjoyment of civil liberty’.

Syn.5.78.269, pp. 8–9


Gabriel-Honoré de Riquetti, comte de Mirabeau (1749–1791)
Sur la liberté de la presse, imité de l’Anglois, de Milton
Londres [i.e. Paris?]: 1788

The appeal of Miltonic ideas at times of revolutionary ferment is illustrated by Mirabeau’s adaptation of the Areopagitica, issued in the year before the storming of the Bastille. Revolutions share certain dynamics, and as calls for fundamental liberties in France led to increasing radicalism and violence, interest in Milton’s writings kept pace with developments. In 1789 the Théorie de la royauté, d’après la doctrine de Milton was published in Paris, in which the universality of Milton’s writings on liberty was affirmed and a translation given of his post-regicide tract, the Defensio prima [‘First defence’]. A second French translation of the Defensio appeared in 1792, the year in which Louis XVI, like Charles I before him, stood trial for his life.

7200.d.203, title page


C. Stower (1778/9–1816)
The printer’s price-book, containing the master printer’s charges to the trade for printing works of various descriptions, sizes, types and pages; also, a new, easy, and correct method of casting off manuscript and other copy, exemplified in specimen pages of different sizes and types: to which is prefixed some account of the nature and business of reading proof sheets for the press, with the typographical marks used for this purpose, and their application shewn in an engraving
London: printed by C. Stower for C. Cradock and W. Joy, 1814

The Areopagitica defended the rights of printers, as well as authors, and has been especially valued by practitioners of this craft. Caleb Stower’s trade handbook included instructions on how to ‘cast off’ a manuscript, or estimate the quantity of printed matter a given section of handwritten text would generate, and provided specimen pages showing the number of letters required to print a sheet of octavo in various styles and sizes of type, and in single and double columns. ‘That the specimen pages may answer not only the purpose of calculation, but that of instruction and amusement’, Stower used them to reprint the Areopagitica.

S425.c.81.1, pp. 58–9


John Milton (1608–1674)
Areopagitica. A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicenc’d printing, to the Parlament of England
London: The Eragny Press, 1904

The Areopagitica has attracted several fine press printers. The Eragny edition of 1904 was printed in Hammersmith, once Milton’s home, by Lucien and Esther Pissarro, with the border and initials designed by Lucien and engraved on wood by Esther. Most of the first issue was destroyed in a fire at the bindery in October 1903; this second issue of 160 copies was finished in March 1904. The Eragny Press, named after the village in Normandy where members of the Pissarro family had settled, established a high reputation for its illustrations and initials between 1894 and 1914.

Syn.4.90.73, title page and p. 3


John Milton (1608–1674)
Areopagitica: a speech of Mr John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England
Edited with an introduction and notes by Isabel Rivers
Cambridge: designed and printed by Sebastian Carter at the Rampant Lions Press for Deighton, Bell and Company, 1973

This edition of the Areopagitica was set in two sizes of type, to distinguish the main argument, with its statements of universal and lasting principle, from passages concerned only with the minutiae of the disputes of Milton’s day, the classical and historical analogies, and the appeals to precedent. Deighton Bell’s prospectus claimed the book to be ‘almost entirely a product of Cambridge’, Milton having been educated in the university, and the edition ‘designed, edited, printed, bound and published in the city.’ The text, moreover, was based on a copy of the 1644 edition held in the University Library.

S200.a.97.1, pp. 28–9



The Tyrant-Hater

Variously attributed to King Charles I (1600–1649) and John Gauden (1605–1662)
Εικων βασιλικη [Eikōn basilikē]: the porutraicture [sic] of his sacred Majestie in his solitudes and sufferings. Together with his Majesties praiers delivered to Doctor Juxon immediatly before his death. Also his Majesties reasons, against the pretended jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice, which he intended to deliver in writing on Munday January 22. 1648
London: printed by F. Leach, 1649 [i.e. 1651?]

The immediate popularity and extraordinary proliferation of Eikōn basilikē [‘Image of the king’], purportedly written by Charles I but thought now to have been largely the work of his chaplain John Gauden, gravely threatened the new republic. Published within days of the king’s execution, and consisting of a sequence of political justifications of the turmoil of the previous decade, each ending with a lengthy prayer, together with penitential meditations, spiritual vows, and more prayers, the book cleared the ground for Charles’s elevation to martyrdom. In William Marshall’s frontispiece the king has put aside his earthly crown to contemplate a crown of glory, while clutching a crown of thorns. This was the iconography the Council of State called upon Milton to smash.

Keynes.A.3.25, frontispiece


John Milton (1608–1674)
Έικονοκλάστης [Eikonoklastēs]: in answer to a book intitl’d Έικών βασιλικη [Eikōn basilikē], the portrature of his sacred Majesty in his solitudes and sufferings
London: printed by T. N., 1650

Eikōn basilikē required a response, however ineffectual mere reason might be against a royal cult, and in Eikonoklastēs [‘Image-breaker’], written at the behest of the republican government, Milton answered the king’s book. He ploughed through it chapter by chapter, repudiating each account of historical events, objecting to Charles’s prayers (‘God save the people from such Intercessors’), mocking the frontispiece’s ‘quaint emblems and devices’, and all the way venting his disdain not only for the king but for those willing to idolise him. Milton may have recognised the futility of his endeavour. Eikōn basilikē went through sixty editions, English and foreign, in one year; this second edition of Eikonoklastēs was the last until 1690.

Bb*.9.47(E)7, title page


John Milton (1608–1674)
Joannis Miltoni Angli pro populo Anglicano defensio contra Claudii Anonymi, aliàs Salmasii, Defensionem regiam
Editio emendatior, London: typis Du-Gardianis, 1651

Eikōn basilikē appealed to the emotions of those who venerated the fallen monarch. A more cerebral attack on regicide was produced by the formidable classical scholar Claude de Saumaise under the title Defensio regia pro Carolo I [‘The royal defence of Charles I’]. In January 1650 the Council of State ordered Milton to prepare an answer, and the Pro populo Anglicano defensio [‘A defence of the people of England’], known as the Defensio prima, was printed by William Dugard in February 1651 with the arms of the Commonwealth on its title page. This emended folio edition appeared later that year. The work was composed in Latin, unlike the vernacular Eikonoklastēs, to increase its influence in the capitals and academies of Europe.

Syn.3.65.2, title page


Peter Du Moulin (1601–1684)
Regii sanguinis clamor ad coelum adversus paricidas Anglicanos
Hagæ-Comitum [ The Hague]: ex typographiâ Adriani Vlac, 1652

The Regii sanguinis clamor [‘The king’s blood’s cry to heaven’] was the work of the French-born Anglican clergyman Peter Du Moulin, although Milton believed the author to be Alexander More. The main matter of the Clamor was a condemnation of those responsible for the overthrow and death of Charles I; Milton was implicated as their apologist, and the book was rounded off with a poem, ‘In impurissimum nebulonem Johanne[m] Miltonum parricidarum & parricidii advocatum’ [‘To the depraved scoundrel John Milton, advocate of parricides and parricide’], consisting of 245 lines of personal invective against Milton. The criticism of Milton’s character in the Clamor determined the form of his autobiographical self-justifications in the Defensio secunda of 1654, displayed in the first case of this exhibition.

D*.13.14(G), pp. 176–7


George Gordon Byron, Baron Byron (1788–1824)
The works of Lord Byron: with his letters and journals, and his life
Edited by Thomas Moore
Volume XV, London: John Murray, 1833

Bob Southey! You’re a poet—Poet-laureate,
   And representative of all the race,
Although ’tis true that you turn’d out a Tory at
   Last,— yours has lately been a common case

Even in the early months of 1660, as moves to restore monarchical government in England gained pace, Milton wrote defences of republicanism. He was never reconciled to the political settlement under which he ended his days, and his constancy made him a hero to later generations of radicals. Byron’s ‘Dedication’ to Don Juan, as thoroughgoing a verbal thrashing as one English poet ever gave another, excoriated the poet laureate of the day, Robert Southey, together with his fellow Lakers Wordsworth and Coleridge, largely on the grounds of their having abandoned their youthful radicalism for secure conformity in middle age. Byron sourly contrasted the behaviour of Southey, the ‘Epic Renegade’, with Milton’s firmness in adversity: ‘He deign’d not to belie his soul in songs… | But closed the tyrant-hater he begun’.

G.43.47, pp. 104–5



Touchstones and Cherry-stones: the Shorter Poems


John Milton (1608–1674)
The Trinity manuscript
England, c. 1630s–[70s?]

‘Lycidas’, which many regard as the finest short poem in English, just as Paradise lost is widely considered the greatest long poem, was written in 1637 following the death at sea of Edward King, Milton’s near contemporary at Christ’s College. It is not known how close King and Milton were; ‘Lycidas’ is cast in the ritualised classical convention of pastoral elegy and may have been composed in response to a request for a commemorative verse, rather than being a spontaneous overflow of grief. It nevertheless embodies profoundly personal utterances on premature death, unfulfilled promise, and the validity of human purposes in the face of an indifferent cosmos.

Manuscripts of Milton’s minor poems were discovered in the library of Trinity College by Charles Mason in the early eighteenth century. They may formerly have been in the possession of Sir Henry Puckering or of Daniel Skinner. Originally found loose, the sheets were bound in 1736; besides the ‘Lycidas’ drafts, the autograph material includes versions of Comus; ‘Arcades’, ‘At a solemn music’, and several sonnets; and notes on themes for literary projects, including an outline of Paradise lost in the form of a play. There is no seventeenth-century English literary manuscript of greater importance.

Trinity College, Cambridge, MS R.3.4, pp. 30–1
By kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge



Justa Edovardo King naufrago, ab amicis mœrentibus, amoris & μνείας χάριν [mneias charin]
Cambridge: printed by Thomas Buck and Roger Daniel, 1638

‘Lycidas’ was first published in an anthology of memorial verses for Edward King, possibly assembled by John Alsop, a fellow of Christ’s College and King’s executor, and printed by the university printers. The first section of the volume contains Latin and Greek poems, and is separated by a second title page, ‘Obsequies to the memorie of Mr Edward King, Anno Dom. 1638’, from a smaller group of English poems concluded by ‘Lycidas’. This copy bears corrections believed to be in Milton’s hand; for much of the nineteenth century it stood on the open shelves of the University Library, until the annotations were noticed in the mid-1860s during a search for duplicate copies for disposal.

Adv.d.38.5, pp. 20–1


John Milton (1608–1674)
Poems of Mr. John Milton, both English and Latin, compos’d at several times
London: printed by Ruth Raworth for Humphrey Moseley, 1645

In 1645 Milton published a collection of his poems, and reprinted ‘Lycidas’ with a headnote explaining the circumstance of the poem’s composition and drawing attention to a passage culminating in a prediction of ‘the ruine of our corrupted Clergy’. Milton may have believed in the prophetic powers of poetry, and these lines of ‘Lycidas’, the earliest clear indication of the disillusionment with the Church of England which Milton later demonstrated in his anti-prelatical polemics, would undoubtedly have seemed prescient in 1645, the year of Archbishop Laud’s execution. In Paradise lost, published after the Restoration, Milton compared the presence of ‘lewd hirelings’ in the Church with Satan trespassing in Eden.

Y.11.45, pp. 56–7


‘Lycidas Miltoni’
England, early eighteenth century
John Plumptre (1754–1825), translator
Miltonis poema, Lycidas, Græce redditum
Cambridge: veneunt apud bibliopolas Cantabrigiæ, Oxoniæ, Etonæ; R. Faulder, F. et C. Rivington, Londini, 1797

The majority of the verse tributes alongside which ‘Lycidas’ was first published were in either Greek or Latin, and the mode of pastoral elegy adopted by Milton for his poem stood squarely in a tradition derived from classical antiquity, the principal models being Moschus, Theocritus and Virgil. These antecedents, and the manageable scale of the exercise, make it unsurprising that there should have been several attempts to render ‘Lycidas’ into classical languages: at least four Latin and two Greek versions were published, and further examples survive in manuscript. The anonymous ‘Lycidas Miltoni’ is from a collection of manuscript verses, ballads, epitaphs and inscriptions believed to have been assembled by Samuel Knight (1677/8–1746). John Plumptre was Dean of Gloucester.

MS Add. 42, f. 152
S721.b.77.39, pp. 2–3


William Cowper (1731–1800), translator
Latin and Italian poems of Milton translated into English verse, and a fragment of a commentary on Paradise lost
Edited with a preface by William Hayley
London: J. Johnson and R. H. Evans, 1808

‘Lycidas’ forms one of a pair of pastoral elegies written by Milton. The other, the Latin ‘Epitaphium Damonis’, commemorated Charles Diodati, an older and closer friend than King, who died in 1638. The two poems share the rustic trappings of pastoral convention, but the note of personal loss is heard more clearly in the ‘Epitaphium’. William Cowper translated Milton’s Latin and Italian poems in the autumn and winter of 1791–2, while preparing an edition of Milton’s poetical works. Cowper described the ‘Epitaphium’ as ‘a pastoral, in my judgement, equal to any of Virgil’s bucolics’. Cowper’s Milton edition was never completed, but his friend William Hayley oversaw the posthumous publication of the translations and fragmentary commentary.

XIV.2.7, pp. 74–5


John Milton (1608–1674)
Poems, &c. upon several occasions
London: printed for Thomas Dring, 1673

This is William Wordsworth’s copy of Milton’s late gathering of his shorter poems. The essayist Charles Lamb called Wordsworth ‘the best knower of Milton’, and the influence of the earlier poet was deeply felt both on Wordsworth’s poetry and on his politics. The volume was a gift from the Edinburgh bookseller, antiquarian and librarian David Laing, who signed his inscription with his monogram, ‘DL’. In 1822 Wordsworth wrote to Laing concerning his desire to possess ‘the 1st Edition of Milton’s Minor poems’, a reference to the edition of 1645; Wordsworth did eventually obtain a copy from his friend John Peace, and this too is now held by Christ’s College.

Christ’s College, Cambridge, Ee.4.17, second front fly-leaf and title page
By kind permission of the Master, Fellows and Scholars of Christ’s College, Cambridge


John Milton (1608–1674)
On the morning of Christ’s nativity, illustrated by R. T. Rose
London and Edinburgh: T. C. & E. C. Jack, c. 1908
Hymn on the morning of Christ’s nativity
London: printed at the Ashendene Press by St. John and Cicely Hornby, 1928
Ode on the morning of Christ’s nativity
London & Boston: The Medici Society, c. 1928
On the morning of Christ’s nativity
Flansham, Bognor Regis: Pear Tree Press, 1930

Milton’s hymn ‘On the morning of Christ’s nativity’ is portrayed in its prefatory stanzas as ‘a present to the Infant God’, and the popularity of this early poem with small press printers and artists may be explained by the suitability of such productions as seasonal gifts; the Hornbys’ edition, with a woodcut by Noel Rooke (1881–1953), explicitly records that it was ‘printed to carry to our friends far & near our heartiest good wishes for a Merry Christmas’. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw numerous such editions, the appreciation of Milton’s assertion of the power of the baby Jesus to ‘control the damnèd crew’ of pagan deities perhaps reflecting a nostalgia for the religious and cultural self-assurance of the high Victorian era.

1908.6.1029, p. 22 and plate opposite
S721.b.92.94, plate and page opposite
1928.5.50, front board
S721.e.93.2, front board


John Milton (1608–1674)
Comus, illustrated by Arthur Rackham
London: William Heinemann and New York: Doubleday Page & Co., 1921

Comus was written in 1634 for performance by the children of the Earl of Bridgewater in celebration of their father’s appointment as Lord President of the Council in the marches of Wales. It abounds in light and charming verse, but its concern with imperilled innocence and the virtue of chastity has prompted darker interpretations; it has been suggested that its plot relates to the unpleasantness which led to the execution of the Countess’s brother-in-law Lord Castlehaven in 1631. Arthur Rackham (1867–1939) had already made a name for his depictions of gnomes, witches and weird creatures in forest settings by the time this edition appeared, and his twenty-four colour illustrations emphasised the masque’s relation to the murky psychologies of fairytale tradition.

Lib.4.92.118, p. 64 and plate XXIII


John Milton (1608–1674)
Samson Agonistes: a dramatic poem: with wood-engravings by Robert Ashwin Maynard
Harrow Weald: printed by R. A. Maynard & H. W. Bray at the Raven Press, 1931

The Raven Press was established in 1931 by the scene-painters turned book-illustrators Robert Ashwin Maynard (1888–1966) and Horace Walter Bray (1887–1963), following their resignation from the Gregynog Press where Maynard had been controller since 1921. At Gregynog the two men had undertaken illustrations jointly on several books, their styles being so similar that the unsigned blocks are difficult to attribute between them, but on this edition of Samson Agonistes Maynard was the sole artist. Only four books were published by the Raven Press (it produced others on commission); Maynard and Bray’s partnership was dissolved in 1934, leaving Bray so embittered that he burned most of the press’s copies still in his possession.

S721.b.93.33, pp. 20–1


John Milton (1608–1674)
Four poems by John Milton: L’allegro: Il penseroso: Arcades: Lycidas: with wood engravings by Blair Hughes-Stanton
Newtown, Montgomeryshire: The Gregynog Press, 1933

Blair Hughes-Stanton (1902–1981) trained at the Byam Shaw and Vicat Cole School of Art and also at the unorthodox Brook Green school in Hammersmith founded by the sculptor Leon Underwood, where his contemporaries included Henry Moore. Between 1930 and 1933 Hughes-Stanton was employed as artist to the Gregynog Press, where among other work he cut woodblocks for an edition of Comus in 1931, and for this edition of Four poems. Penelope Hughes-Stanton, the artist’s daughter, has written that the ‘exuberant images of frolicking nymphs and shepherds are almost certainly a celebration of the unconventional, unrestrained and now unfettered love affair between BHS and Ida Graves’, who became his second wife.

S721.b.93.56, pp. 20–1


John Milton (1608–1674)
The mask of Comus, the poem, originally called ‘A mask presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634, &c.’ edited by E. H. Visiak, the airs of the five songs reprinted from the composer’s autograph manuscript edited by Hubert J. Foss, with a foreword by the Earl of Ellesmere, ornamented by M. R. H. Farrar
Bloomsbury: The Nonesuch Press, 1937

The 1937 Nonesuch edition of Comus is regarded as one of the press’s triumphs; Francis Meynell, a founding partner in the press, described it later as ‘pretty well at the top of the Nonesuch achievement’. Mildred Farrar’s illustrations were cut in linoleum, at the time a little-used medium, and were printed at the Curwen Press. Charles Marriott noted their affinity to Tudor and Stuart wall paintings, and praised their ‘deliberate unreality’ and perfect adaptation to ‘to the atmosphere of the Mask’. Little is known of Farrar, who studied printing with Harry Carter; she worked in watercolours as well as making prints, but apparently illustrated no other book, and is thought to have died during the Second World War.

S721.a.93.18, p. 8 and plate opposite


John Milton (1608–1674)
L’allegro: Il penseroso: illustrated by Bernard Meninsky
London: Allan Wingate, 1947

One of a distinguished generation of Anglo-Jewish artists which included David Bomberg, Isaac Rosenberg and Mark Gertler, Bernard Meninsky (1891–1950) established a reputation in the years after the First World War both as a figure painter and as a gifted teacher at the Central and Westminster art schools. Meninsky discovered the engravings of William Blake and Samuel Palmer, both notable illustrators of Milton, in the 1920s, a decade in which he also began to appreciate the neo-classical draughtsmanship of Picasso. In the 1940s Meninsky produced numerous pastoral works, on canvas and paper, revealing an unlikely fusion of these disparate influences. The style found apposite subject-matter in the line illustrations created for Allan Wingate’s edition of ‘L’allegro’ and ‘Il penseroso’.

S721.a.94.3, pp. 18–19



The Noblest Poem that Ever was Wrote


John Milton (1608–1674)
Paradise lost. A poem in ten books
London: printed by S. Simmons, 1668 [i.e. 1667]

The first edition of Paradise lost was published by Samuel Simmons in the autumn of 1667. Around 1,300 copies were printed, and were sold over the next two years with seven variant title pages, two dated 1667, three 1668 and two 1669. Milton remained a widely abominated figure in the late 1660s, and Simmons cautiously omitted his own name from the first four variants. This volume contains two title pages. At the front is the third of the 1668 versions, followed by seven additional leaves of prose summary, note on the verse, and errata which first appeared with that issue. Bound between Books VI and VII of the poem, presumably by mistake, is the very earliest version of the title page, dated 1667.

Syn.7.66.32, title page of 1667


Legal documents relating to Paradise lost
London, 26 April 1669 and 21 December 1680

Samuel Simmons is often, although possibly unfairly, thought to have driven a hard bargain for the right to publish Paradise lost. He paid Milton £5 for the first edition, and promised a further £5 when it had been sold; the deal also secured him rights to two subsequent editions, each for the payment of another £5. The left-hand document displayed here is the receipt given by Milton for the £5 paid on completion of the sale of the first edition. The poet had been blind for many years, and the handwriting is that of an amanuensis. The right-hand document is Elizabeth Milton’s release of her rights in the poem to Simmons for the sum of £8, made six years after her husband’s death.

Christ’s College, Cambridge, MS 8
By kind permission of the Master, Fellows and Scholars of Christ’s College, Cambridge


John Milton (1608–1674)
Paradise lost. A poem in twelve books
London: printed by S. Simmons, 1674

Five years elapsed between the exhaustion of the first edition of Paradise lost and the appearance of the second, ‘Revised and Augmented’ edition which was to be Milton’s last publication in his lifetime. The reason for the delay is not known; the work of recasting the poem in twelve rather than ten books, which may have been undertaken so that it paralleled more closely the Aeneid of Virgil, involved little more than splitting the seventh and tenth books of the original. The new edition had a portrait frontispiece by Walter Dolle (after William Faithorne) and was prefaced by two commendatory poems, one in Latin probably by Samuel Barrow and one in English by Andrew Marvell.

Christ’s College, Cambridge, Ee.4.13, frontispiece and title page
By kind permission of the Master, Fellows and Scholars of Christ’s College, Cambridge


William Hog (b. c. 1652), translator
Paraphrasis poetica in tria Johannis Miltoni, viri clarissimi, poemata, viz. Paradisum amissum, Paradisum recuperatum, et Samsonem Agonisten
London: typis Johannis Darby, 1690

In the 1690s William Hog, who may have studied at Edinburgh University, was the most prolifically published author of Latin verse in England. His translation of Milton’s three late, long poems is regarded as his most noteworthy production. In the dedicatory epistle Hog explained that although Paradise lost was celebrated throughout England, the poem was unknown in foreign parts because Milton wrote in English. A desire to further Milton’s cause abroad formed only part of Hog’s motive, however: in a note to his ‘friendly and Christian’ readers he admitted that it was ‘not love of fame, but fear of hunger’ which drove him to the work. Hog translated the original ten-book version of the poem.

Q.10.101, Paradisum amissum, title page


John Milton (1608–1674)
The poetical works of Mr. John Milton. Containing Paradise lost, Paradise regain’d, Sampson Agonistes, and his Poems on several occasions. Together with explanatory notes on each book of the Paradise lost, and a table never before printed
London: printed for Jacob Tonson, 1695

The bookseller Jacob Tonson obtained a half-share in the rights to Paradise lost in 1683 and secured full ownership in 1690. As publisher of Milton he took evident care over textual integrity, and enhanced the status of the works by presenting them in lavish folio editions, beginning in 1688 with the first illustrated edition of Paradise lost, exhibited in an adjacent case. In this 1695 edition of the Poeticalworks he printed Patrick Hume’s Annotations on Milton’s Paradise lost…, which quoted scriptural texts relating to the poem, drew attention to parallels in Homer and Virgil, and rephrased obscure passages. Paradise lost thus became the first English poem to be published with the type of critical apparatus until then reserved for ancient texts.

Y.7.29, Annotations…, pp. 290–1


John Milton (1608–1674)
The poetical works of Mr. John Milton
Volume the first, London: printed for Jacob Tonson, 1720

This volume of Tonson’s 1720 edition of the Poetical works bears the annotations of the great classical scholar and philologist Richard Bentley, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Bentley told the poet John Byrom in 1726 that he had been making emendations on Milton, and in 1732 he produced a new and much revised edition of Paradise lost. Bentley was convinced that the text of the poem as hitherto printed had been corrupted by the combined ‘Defoedation’ of Simmons and a conjectured ‘Friend or Acquaintance, whoever he was,’ to whom Milton was supposed to have entrusted his manuscript to be seen through the press, but who ‘did so vilely execute that Trust, that Paradise under his Ignorance and Audaciousness may be said to be twice lost.’

Adv.b.52.12, pp. 96–7


John Milton (1608–1674)
Milton’s Paradise lost. A new edition, by Richard Bentley, D.D.
London: printed for Jacob Tonson, 1732

Bentley’s edition aroused indignation for the high-handed pedantry and misapplied literalism with which he treated the text. Almost every page of the poem has footnotes casting doubt on the correctness of particular words or phrases; Bentley printed his preferred readings in the right-hand margin, and enclosed in square brackets numerous passages of the poem (such as lines 35–6 of Book III) which he thought to be the work of an unnamed contemporary ‘Editor’ of the first edition. This copy was in the possession of the poet William Cowper, and the spirited marginalia taking issue with Bentley’s suppositions are believed to be in his hand.

Christ’s College, Cambridge, Ee.2.8, pp. 78–9
By kind permission of the Master, Fellows and Scholars of Christ’s College, Cambridge



If Art Could Tell: Illustrated Epics


John Milton (1608–1674)
Paradise lost. A poem in twelve books. The fourth edition, adorn’d with sculptures
London: printed by Miles Flesher for Jacob Tonson, 1688

The fourth edition of Paradise lost was the first in folio and the first to be illustrated, with a full-page plate preceding each book of the poem. Seven of the plates were signed by John Baptiste de Medina, and four of the others are attributed to him. The twelfth plate, illustrating Book IV, is signed ‘B. Lens Senior’, and may be the work of either Bernard Lens (1630/31–1707/8) or his son, also Bernard (1659/60–1725). The principal subject is the descent of Uriel to warn Gabriel of Satan’s escape from Hell, but the charm of the plate lies in the intricate background detail of Adam and Eve and the creatures in Eden. Satan, in the form of a cormorant, perches on the Tree of Life.

Y.7.2, p. 85 and plate opposite


Paolo Antonio Rolli (1687–1765), translator
Il paradiso perduto: poema Inglese di Giovanni Milton del quale non si erano publicati se non i primi sei canti: tradotto in verso sciolto dal Signor Paolo Rolli compagno della Reale Societá in Londra l’acclamato nell’ Accademia degl’Intronati in Siena e Pastore Arcade in Roma. Con la vita del poeta e con le annotazioni sopra tutto il poema di G. Addison aggiunte alcune osservazioni critiche
Parigi [i.e. Verona]: a spese di Giannalberto Tumermani stamp. Veron., 1742

Rolli, a native of Rome, lived in London for nearly thirty years from around 1715 onwards. His translation of Paradise lost, first published between 1729 and 1735 with the patronage of the Prince of Wales, was the earliest Italian version. This reprint by the leading Veronese printer Tumermani has numerous head- and tail-pieces engraved by Francesco Zucchi (1695–1764), best known for his illustrations to the Forestier illuminato, Giovanni Battista Albrizzi’s guidebook to Venice published in 1740. The artists copied for Rolli’s translation included Piazzetta, Cignaroli and Tiepolo.

Lib.3.74.1, pp. 134–5


Nicolas-François Dupré de Saint-Maur (1695–1774), translator
Le paradis perdu, poëme par Milton; édition en anglais et en français, ornée de douze estampes imprimées en couleur d’après les tableaux de M. Schall
Paris: chez Defer de Maisonneuve, 1792

In the same turbulent year that Jacobins in Valence were publishing a French translation of Milton’s apology for regicide, the Defensio prima, in Paris Defer de Maisonneuve produced this aristocratic bilingual Paradise lost, the first edition of the poem to have colour-printed illustrations. The plates for the stipple engravings, after paintings by Jean-Frédéric Schall (1752–1825), were hand-coloured prior to each impression, a process so extraordinarily time-consuming that barely half a dozen books were ever illustrated in this manner.

CCA.48.31, p. 193 and plate opposite


Robert Gibbings (1889–1958) and Moira Gibbings (b. 1894)
The Golden Cockerel Press Spring 1930
Waltham Saint Lawrence: The Golden Cockerel Press, 1930
John Milton (1608–1674)
Paradise lost: a poem
The text of the first edition prepared for press by J. Isaacs
London: printed at the Golden Cockerel Press, 1937

The Paradise lost issued by the Golden Cockerel Press in 1937 differed significantly in paper, binding and illustration from the volume announced in the press’s Spring list in 1930. In the intervening years Robert and Moira Gibbings had sold their interest in the press, and the published volume was decorated by Mary Groom (1903–1958) with dark, fine-hatched engravings characterised by Wendy Furman as ‘witty feminist primitivism’. The 1930 list affords a glimpse of how the simpler, airier wood-engravings of Robert Gibbings might have complemented the press’s new font, Golden Cockerel Type, designed by Eric Gill. The prospectus for the Groom edition stated that Gibbings had found the poem ‘not entirely suited to his muse’, but there is little sign of this on the sample page.

Loaned by Mr Sebastian Carter
S721.a.93.15, pp. 110–11


John Milton (1608–1674)
Paradise regain’d: a poem in four books
London: The Cresset Press, 1931

The earliest published illustrations to Paradise regained, attributed to John Baptiste de Medina, appeared in 1713. Subsequent illustrators have included Francis Hayman, William Blake and J. M. W. Turner, but in general the poem has proved less attractive to artists than Paradise lost, due no doubt in part to its relative dearth of incident. The climactic fall of Satan from the pinnacle of the temple after failing to tempt Christ has often been among the scenes chosen for depiction, as here in a wood engraving by Demetrius E. Galanis (1879–1966). ‘Thom’, in the fifth line of the facing verse, should read ‘whom’.

S721.a.93.10, p. 64 and plate opposite



Miltonic Air: the Poet in the Culture


James Thomson (1700–1748)
The seasons
London: Samuel Richardson, 1730

The extent to which Milton’s blank verse exercised sway over the poetry of the succeeding age can be exaggerated. Not all readers approved of it—in 1733 James Bramston complained (in couplets) ‘Verse without rhyme I never could endure, | Uncouth in numbers, and in sense obscure… | Milton’s an universal Blank to me’—although poets such as Edward Young and William Cowper, and eventually and most notably of all William Wordsworth, produced substantial and popular works in the form. Thomson’s Seasons were a phenomenal success. Not only the verse but William Kent’s engravings for the 1730 edition have Miltonic resonances: the particular combination of Edenic landscape, innocently naked figures, tree-obscured voyeur and airborne extraterrestrials associates the plate for ‘Summer’ with the emerging iconography of Paradise lost.

7720.b.33, p. 59 and plate opposite


Sarah Siddons (1755–1831)
The story of our first parents, selected from Milton’s Paradise lost: for the use of young persons
London: John Murray, 1822

The actress Sarah Siddons abridged Paradise lost to read to her own children, being ‘naturally desirous that their minds should be inspired with an early admiration of Milton’ while acknowledging that the ‘perfection of his immortal Poem is seldom appreciated by the young; and its perusal is, perhaps, very generally regarded rather as a duty than a pleasure’. Her solution was to omit everything not relating directly to the story of Adam and Eve. Under this scheme Books VI and VII were swept away entirely: Book V ends on the left-hand page shown and Book VIII begins on the right.

R.18.114, pp. 100–1


Robert Burford (1791–1861)
Description of an attempt to illustrate Milton’s Pandemonium; now exhibiting in the Panorama, Leicester Square. Painted by the proprietor, Robert Burford, from the designs of H. C. Slous
London: printed by J. and C. Adlard, 1829

Panoramas painted or supervised by Robert Burford and exhibited in premises in Leicester Square and the Strand were a fixture of London life for several decades. The standard subjects were foreign cities, remote and exotic landscapes, military and naval engagements, and ceremonial occasions; ‘Pandemonium’, recreating a scene described in Book I of Paradise lost, was a departure from the norm. In his accompanying booklet Burford wrote that although Milton’s ‘wildness of fancy, rich description, and sublime and beautiful imagery’ had ‘opened a wide field’ for artists, no previous illustration had been attempted ‘on a scale worthy the elevation of soul and terrific conceptions of the Poet.’ The spectacle did not please the public, however, and Burford never tried a literary theme again.

8690.c.219, title page and folding plate


Thomas H. Huxley (1825–1895)
American addresses, with a lecture on the study of biology
London: Macmillan and Co., 1877

In 1900 the literary critic Walter Raleigh called Paradise lost ‘a monument to dead ideas’. Decline in belief in the literal truth of the Genesis account of creation was hastened by popularisers of Darwinian theories of evolution. In a lecture in New York in 1876 Thomas Huxley posited three possible hypotheses respecting the history of nature; he termed the biblical version ‘ Milton’s hypothesis’, and attributed to Paradise lost a major responsibility for its ‘general wide diffusion as one of the current beliefs of English-speaking people’. Inviting his audience to imagine what would have been visible to a spectator in the case of each hypothesis, Huxley quoted a lengthy passage from Book VII of Paradise lost. The lecture prompted a newspaper headline of ‘Huxley Eikonoklastes’.

Zz.58.38, pp. 8–9


The illustrated Milton birthday book
London: W. Mack, c. 1887

Around the time of the tercentenary celebrations of Milton’s birth the Illustrated London news remarked that ‘Nearly all Englishmen are either Shakesperians or Miltonians…. Each represents something in the make-up of England.’ What better gift for a Miltonian than this ‘birthday book’, a pocket diary with Milton quotations for every day of the year?

1887.4.165, front board


G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936)
The coloured lands
London: Sheed & Ward, 1938

Chesterton’s jeu d’esprit thanking a friend for a gift of cheese nicely sums up a characteristic English attitude to Milton. A smartly-bound set of the Works has its due place on the bookshelves, but is not much read; far preferable to glum Puritanism are the sensory pleasures of good food and the human warmth of shared festivities. The coloured lands formed an affectionate memorial volume for its author, ‘crammed with the things you would have got from Chesterton had you been his Week-end guest.’

Waddleton.c.9.347, pp. 84–5


Ronald Johnson (1935–1998)
Radi os
Berkeley: Sand Dollar Books, 1977

Quite remote in concept from Thomson’s iambics, the Kansan poet Ronald Johnson’s Radi os was created by reproducing an 1892 edition of Paradise lost with the majority of the words excised. Johnson likened his technique to an etcher’s, observing that ‘To etch is “to cut away”, and each page, as in Blake’s concept of a book, is a single picture’. Radi os recalls the Imagist poetry of the early twentieth century, and continued what Eric Selinger called ‘the American habit of composition by quotation’, exemplified by the work of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot. In Johnson’s poem the grand rhythmic suppleness of Milton’s original metre is transformed into a tentative, hesitant free verse capable of its own arresting beauties.

9000.c.5011, unpaginated: ‘O III’ [pp. 2–3]


Jeffrey Escoffier and Matthew Lore (b. 1966), editors
Mark Morris’ L’allegro, Il penseroso ed Il moderato: a celebration
London: Robert Hale, 2001

A landmark of modern dance, Mark Morris’s L’allegro, Il penseroso ed Il moderato was created in 1988 and premiered at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. Choreographed to Handel’s 1740 cantata of the same title, in which alternating sections of Milton’s poems were set together with a moderato element with a libretto by Charles Jennens, Morris’s dance also drew inspiration from William Blake’s designs for the poems made in 1816–20; it thereby embodies a fusion of Miltonic influences from four centuries. Judith Mackrell wrote that ‘although its imagery is vividly rooted in Milton…, its candour, sexuality and comedy are completely modern.’ The photograph displayed is by Brant Ward.

C200.a.487, pp. 38–9