William Shakespeare and John Milton are the two most important poets in English. Shakespeare's achievements are unchallengeable and secure, while Milton's claim to eminence is far more controversial. He wrote the only poem in English recognized as an epic, Paradise Lost, a poem which challenged the beliefs and presuppositions of all of its readers. As a literary writer his political and historical significance is unique; he was at the center, involved in, the most traumatic period of modern British history, and this left an imprint on his writings. Richard Bradford addresses two key topics in this short account of Milton's life and work: The parallels between Paradise Lost and the events in England of the mid-to-late 17th century; and the question of whether Milton's writings reflect his sense of despair at man's apparent failure to make the best of the world after the Fall and is thus the first testimony of his religious doubt.