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Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for Wife to Mr. Milton
Book cover for Wife to Mr. Milton

With impressive literary power, the acclaimed historical novelist and critic Robert Graves tells the story of the tragic and eventful life of Marie Powell, who, at the age of sixteen, was pushed into marrying the man who was England’s greatest epic poet—and knew it—John Milton.

“A thumping good read.” —E.M. Forster


At the age of sixteen, Mary Powell marries poet John Milton. Their marriage, which plays out during the English Civil War, is not one of love, but rather a practical arrangement that proves to be a devastating mismatch of temperaments and convictions. Her Royalist sympathies and his ardent parliamentarianism, her independence, and his austere way of life, 1640s England is a hotbed of clashing ideologies and so too is this marriage. The story, which unfolds in Marie’s sensitive and searching journals, is a scathing portrait of one of England’s most famous poets, a story of literary ambition and masculine egoism, and, like all of Graves’ historical novels, a monumental achievement of closely watched history. 

One the one hand, this is a tender story of the romance Marie Powell found outside the walls of her tyrannical husband’s house. On the other it is also a brilliant account of one of the most breathtaking epochs in English history, when that kingdom was ravaged by a bloody civil war and the tides of fortune swayed from one to the other side of the opposing camps—the King against his parliament, tyranny against freedom—culminating in the dramatic execution of Charles I, and the establishment of a republic.

Book cover for Wife to Mr. Milton
Book cover for Wife to Mr. Milton

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Robert Graves

Robert Graves (1895–1985) was a preeminent English poet, novelist, critic, translator, and scholar of classical mythology. He served in World War I—an experience recounted in his 1929 autobiography, Good-Bye to All That—and later became the first professor of English literature at the University of Cairo. Best remembered today for his acclaimed historical novels about the Roman emperor Claudius, I, Claudius and Claudius the God, his other books include Count Belisarius, Lawrence and the Arabs, They Hanged My Saintly Billy, Homer's Daughter, The Golden Fleece, The Siege and Fall of Troy, Ann at Highwood Hall, The White GoddessThe Hebrew Myths, and Collected Poems. He is also the co-author of The Reader Over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose. 

Other books by Robert Graves