John Milton (December 9, 1608 – November 8, 1674) was a poet best known for Paradise Lost, an epic poem telling the biblical tale of the Fall of Man, covering the temptation of Adam and Eve, and which is widely considered to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written. He was born in Bread Street, in the City, the son of John Milton and his wife Sarah Jeffrey. His father became a successful scrivener, preparing documents for legal transactions, when he was disinherited for rejecting his own father’s staunch Roman Catholic beliefs. This business made him successful and wealthy enough for his son to go to university and travel. The younger Milton himself was a republican, and when he heard that England was on the verge of civil war cut short a European tour to return home. He wrote several major political works during this time; and as 34-year-old married Mary Powell, aged 17. The union was not a happy one, Mary left him soon after the wedding. Despite going on to have four children together, the marriage never recovered, leading Milton to pen Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, followed by The Judgment of Martin Bucer Concerning Divorce. The so-called Divorce Tracts earned him the derisive nickname Milton the Divorcer. Meanwhile with the royalists defeated Milton got himself a job as Secretary for the Foreign Tongues, for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. The job offered with it a salary and lodgings at Scotland Yard. For all his writings, Milton never got divorced, but Mary died in childbirth. Two more marriages followed. Later with the return of monarchy, he was briefly imprisoned by Charles II. Towards the end of his life he published Paradise Lost, followed, soon after, by Paradise Regained. The exact date and location of Milton’s death remain unknown; he likely died in London, from complications of the gout (possibly renal failure) or possibly from consumption. He was buried inside St Giles Cripplegate Church. Poets and playwrights were, and remain a popular subject matter for street names. Shakespeare Road adjoins.
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