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Featured Treasure: Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost by John Milton

Paradise Lost: a poem written in ten books. By John Milton. /London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons] and are to be sold by PeterParker, and by Robert Boulter, and Matthias Walker, 1667. [342] p. 18 cm. Wing M 2136. [1st edition, 1st issue, 1st state of title-page]. *Strong Room Ogden A 411*

Of the 6 title-pages that occur with the 1st edition only two are dated 1667, the others being 1668 and 1669. On this, the earliest state, the author’s name appears in large capitals. Many textual variants - on fol. L3 (end of Book 3) the verses are wrongly numbered. The first line is numbered 740, it should be 731. On the same page line 760 reads "Throw his steep flight with many an Aerie wheele". In later states of the text "with" is changed to "in".

Bookplate of "Richard Banner, Esq". Bookplate of "Thomas Anson Esq. Shugborough". Plate is signed "Yates". This is probably Thomas Anson who extended Shugborough Hall, in Staffordshire, and was a noted patron of the arts and a founding member of the Society of Dilettanti. Bookplate of George Barr McCutcheon, American novelist. Bookplate of Robert J. Hamershlag; plate is by the American artist Rockwell Kent, and can be dated to 1928. From the Library of C.K. Ogden, acquired 1953. Red calf (c.1700) binding, with gilt borders on sides, slightly repaired; in cloth folder and morocco solander case.

Milton may have begun his greatest work as early as 1640 but it took its final shape between 1658 and 1663. The work was slowed down by Milton’s blindness, which meant he was forced to dictate all his lines. It is an epic poem telling the story of the fall of man, in which the principal characters are God, the Son, and Satan. The prominence of the latter character led to Satan being regarded as an anti-hero by the Romantics.

Images of Paradise Lost in our Digital Archive (click on thumbnail to expand):

Milton's Paradise Lost. 1st ed. frontispiece. Milton's Paradise Lost. 1st edition. with 1st state of title-page

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Last modified 27 February 2013

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