[Milton-L] milton's bones

Leslie McMurtry leslie.mcmurtry at gmail.com
Thu Apr 23 09:50:39 EDT 2009

Hi all,

I was recently in London doing Milton-y research things.  Part of that
involved looking at some Milton objects in the collections of the Museum of
London.  The curator couldn't tell me much about the objects (including a
pane of glass said to come from his house, 18 Barbican!) but she did tell me
an interesting story.  She said she used to do a talk to students about the
area of St Giles Cripplegate (where Milton is buried of course).  I'm
quoting her tale from her notes which she gave me after I had looked at the
objects:  "Some famous people connected with the church are Oliver Cromwell,
who got married here in 1620, aged 21.  John Milton, the poet who wrote
Paradise lost, was buried here in 1674.  *In 1793 they opened up his coffin
and the workmen who did it decided to take his teeth as souvenirs.  They
couldn't get them out at first so they had to whack his jaw with a stone to
loosen them.  They also took handfuls of his hair that were still sticking
to the skull and a rib bone.  If you paid the caretaker 6p, she would let
you look in the coffin."  *

My question is, has anyone ever heard this post-burial trauma story?  Does
anyone know of a written source?  The curator couldn't remember where she
had read it.

Poor maimed Milton!

Leslie McMurtry
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