A charity has launched an “urgent” appeal to the public to help it preserve a 16th-century cottage in Buckinghamshire, England, where John Milton completed his epic poem “Paradise Lost” 350 years ago, the media reported.

The radical poet lived in the Chalfont St. Giles cottage after he fled London during the 1665 plague, reports the Guardian.

Although he remained there for less than two years, it was in this cottage where he completed his masterpiece about Satan’s war with heaven. It was published in 1667.

The cottage is the only surviving residence of the poet and is open to the public as a museum.

It holds a leading collection of first editions, as well as a lock of the poet’s hair, and an original proclamation from King Charles II, banning his books.

According to the independent charity, the Milton Cottage Trust, it is the second-oldest writer’s home museum in the world after William Shakespeare’s birthplace.

As the 350th anniversary of the publication of “Paradise Lost” approaches, the charity has been awarded a Heritage Endowments grant of 250,000 pounds. In total, the charity is looking to raise a total of 3.5 million pounds to protect the museum’s future.

“We are thrilled the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting our Paradise Maintained Endowment Fund. However, to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime match-funding offer, we need public donations in the first place,” the Guardian quoted the charity’s chair Simon Avery as saying.

Avery called Milton “one of the most radical and influential thinkers Britain has ever seen”, saying that he “wrote at a time when Britain was in the midst of an identity crisis”.

The 350th anniversary of “Paradise Lost” is also being marked on Sunday with a marathon reading of the poem in the cottage.

In total, 350 people will perform the 10,000-odd line poem, over 11 hours, from local residents to fans from around the UK.

First Published | 18 August 2017 4:57 PM
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