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Milton fans read Paradise Lost non-stop for charity

09 Dec 2010

A 10-hour reading of Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost is to take place on 10 December at The University of Manchester to raise money for charity.

Milton and his daughters
Milton and his daughters

The 50 or so students and staff will read all 86,340 words -10,552 lines - in a bid to raise cash for the RNIB a day after the poet’s 402 birthday.

The event is organised by PhD student Liam Haydon with the support of Dr Jerome De Groot, and will take place at the Poetry Centre in the University’s Samuel Alexander building.

Liam chose the RNIB as by the time Milton started working on the poem, he had turned blind and was forced to dictate the text to his daughters.

He formed a reading group for fans of Milton which meets every Thursday, and inspired the fund-raising idea.

Liam said “I first discovered Milton as an undergraduate and fell in love with the poetry - the rhythm is amazing and unlike anything else I’ve read.

“This is about raising money for RNIB but it’s also bringing this fantastic work to the wider public and imparting some of our enthusiasm for Milton.

“Milton is meant to be read aloud - though it can be quite challenging reading 200 or so lines.

“But it’s such an incredibly engaging poem: not bad for a story about two people who eat an apple!”
Each reader will each take 200 lines, lasting about ten minutes, aiming to complete the 12 books by early evening.

To sponsor them visit

Dr De Groot is such a fan of paradise Poem, he says, he even listens to it on his iPod.

He said: “Milton was a remarkable figure – publishing the poem in 1667, just a few years after Cromwell had executed Charles I and established a republic in England.

“Milton - an ally of Cromwell, and a key propagandist - played a prominent role in that.

“Before Milton, little had been written dramatically on the temptation of Adam and Eve - so the understanding of the story by the English speaking world is in many respects down to Milton.

“But the sheer imagination of Milton is breathtaking: Hell and Chaos are vividly imagined, the angels and devils fight in mid-air and  even throw mountains, and Milton’s Satan is one of the great characters in literature.

“My students are usually pleasantly surprised at how interesting and accessible it actually is: many end up singing its praises.”

Notes for editors

The sponsored reading of Paradise Lost will take place from 9am at the Poetry Centre, Room A4, Samuel Alexander Building, Oxford Road University of Manchester on 10 December.
Photographers are invited to photograph the reading at any point during the day.

To sponsor the readers visit

For media enquiries contact:

Mike Addelman
Media Relations
Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881567