Folio 1v

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John Milton
(1608–1674)

Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis

ca. 1665

Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904

MA 307
Item description: 

This 33-page manuscript is all that remains of the many drafts and fair copies of the evolving text of Milton's biblical epic Paradise Lost. After he lost his sight, Milton relied on several copyists, to transcribe the verses he composed in solitude and to assist him as he revised. This manuscript, which has been marked up lightly by at least five different hands, consists of the text of Book I as it was delivered to Samuel Simmons, the printer of the 1667 first edition. Simmons probably retained these sheets and passed them on to later copyright holders because they bear the imprimatur, or publishing license, issued by the English government.

About this exhibition: 

To celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Milton (1608–1674), The Morgan Library & Museum is pleased to present the only surviving manuscript of Paradise Lost, Book 1. This epic poem is considered Milton's greatest artistic achievement and one of the finest works of the human imagination. Acquired by Pierpont Morgan in 1904, it is the most important British literary manuscript in the collection. The 33-page manuscript has been temporarily disbound, providing an opportunity to see more of its pages than ever before. Also in this presentation are first editions of Paradise Lost printed in England and the United States during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and a rarely seen miniature portrait of the poet.

Transcription: 

Imprimatur
Tho. Tomkyns RRmo. in
Christo Patri ac Domino
Dño Gilberto divinâ Providentiâ
Archiepiscopo Cantuarensi à
Sacris domesticis.
  Richard Royston
    Int[ratu]r p[er] Geo: Tokefeilde Cl[ericum]

"Let it be printed. Thomas Tomkyns, one of the religious servants of the most reverent father and lord in Christ, Lord Gilbert, by divine providence archbishop of Canterbury. Richard Royston. Entered by George Tokefield, clerk."

Credits: 

This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr.

Photography by Graham Haber.

Translation by Professor Gordon Campbell.