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.
John Milton (1608–1674)
Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books. By John Milton.
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, 1667.
PML 963. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan.
As sales of the book improved, and perhaps after the royal
library had accepted a presentation copy (the king's copy is
displayed in the next case), Simmons's anxiety subsided, and
he began to draw from the stock of alternative title pages.
Milton's full name was retained on the title pages of the first
edition in 1668 and 1669. The book was never issued with a
frontispiece portrait of the author. The portrait that appears
opposite the title pages of these copies is William Dolle's
engraving (after William Faithorne's painting of Milton),
published in the second and third editions (1674 and 1678), and
inserted into these copies of the first edition at a later date.