Paradise Lost. A Poem in Ten Books.
The Author J. M.
London: Printed, and are to be sold by Peter Parker under Creed Church neer Aldgate; and by Robert Boulter at the Turks Head in Bishopsgate-street; and Matthias Walker, under St. Dunstons Church in Fleet-street.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1912
The bibliographer Hugh Amory argues persuasively for this being the earliest issue of the first edition of Paradise Lost (despite its title page, dated 1668), in which the anonymous author is identified only by his initials, "J. M." Similarly, the author is identified in the Stationers' Register on 20 August 1667 by his initials only. Amory speculates that Samuel Simmons, the printer and publisher of the first edition, decided against using Milton's full name on the title page "as the day of publication approached," substituting this version on which the author remained anonymous. Simmons's faltering confidence is understandable because Milton, a prominent supporter of regicide (he defended the execution of Charles I), was still widely regarded as a dangerous radical when Paradise Lost was first published.
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.
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr.
Photography by Graham Haber.