Did you know that Milton – best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost – was also the unofficial spin-doctor for England’s only republican government?  Appointed Cromwell’s Secretary for Foreign Tongues in 1649, his official role was as translator for the revolutionary new regime.  Unofficially, he was also its key propagandist, justifying republican principles – as well as the execution of Charles I – in works such as Eikonklastes and Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio.

These radical pamphlets brought him fame throughout Europe but also led to imprisonment and his books being banned after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.  Upon his release Milton returned to his first love, poetry, to write Paradise Lost – a poem that restored his reputation and changed the course of English literature forever.  He completed this epic masterpiece at Milton’s Cottage, in Chalfont St. Giles, after fleeing London during the Great Plague of 1665.

Milton’s Cottage is his only surviving residence and has been open to the public as a museum since 1887.  This season, visitors have the opportunity to explore the enduring influence of his politics as well as poetry with The New Pamphleteers – an exhibition that displays work by contemporary pamphleteers and bloggers alongside rare first editions of Milton’s political pamphlets that escaped the bonfires of censorship back in 1660. This will be followed by The Monster Read Milton, which explores Milton’s influence on Frankenstein.

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s ground-breaking novel, written in nearby Marlow.  Milton’s Cottage launches its Frankenstein season with all-night story-telling session on 16th June – the date of Lord Byron’s infamous villa party, in which he challenged his guests to tell a ghost story.  That night led not only to the creation of Frankenstein but also Polidori’s The Vampyre and Milton’s Cottage challenges everyone to dream up a new ghost story for the 21st century.

Simon Avery, Chairman of Milton’s Cottage, says: “Perhaps more than any other writer in the English language, Milton has shaped the world around us.  We think everyone should have the opportunity to visit this iconic heritage landmark and are encouraging local residents to look at Milton’s legacy in new ways.  We hope you can join us.”

Milton’s Cottage is open from 30th March – 28th October 2018.  Opening times are Wed – Sat, 2-5pm (last entry 4.30pm) as well as bank holidays and the 4th Sunday of the calendar month during the same hours.

Admission prices are £7 (£6 for parties of 15 or more), £6 for concessions (proof required) and free for accompanied children under 16.

www.miltonscottage.org

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