No. 9: John Milton at 40

John Milton

John Milton (1608-1674) will forever be remembered first and foremost for Paradise Lost, and as such is frequently packaged as the romantic, blind poet bequeathing us with his epic poetry. Step back to his 40s though and we are faced with a far more troubling Milton – posterboy for the Roundheads and lapdog to Oliver Cromwell. In the words of 1066 and all that, he was less ‘wrong but wromantic’ at this age, and more ‘right but repulsive’. Continue reading “No. 9: John Milton at 40”


No. 8: Mary Elizabeth Braddon at 40

Mary-Elizabeth-BraddonMary Elizabeth Braddon, born 4 October 1835, would lie to many of her peers in later years about her age (telling some she had been born later, in 1837), but the unavoidable truth is that the Queen of Sensation Fiction turned 40 in 1875, a time in which she was both subjected to and released from scandal, where she waved goodbye to editorial pressures, and continued a prolific production of novels, though not to everyone’s taste. Continue reading “No. 8: Mary Elizabeth Braddon at 40”

No. 7: Daphne du Maurier at 40

The novelist, playwright, biographer and short story writer Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) turned 40 years of age in 1947. By that time she was married to Lt-Gen Frederick ‘Boy’ Browning (1896-1965), the mother of three children, and a well-known novelist following the immense popularity of her fifth book, Rebecca (1938). None of her work was published in 1947 but The King’s General (1946), and The Parasites (1949), are novels composed around that time, as were the stories in The Apple Tree (1952). Continue reading “No. 7: Daphne du Maurier at 40”

No. 6: Oliver Goldsmith at 40


Oliver Goldsmith, he of the large-domed forehead, was born in 1730…or 1728 – what difference does a couple of years make? Well for a man like Goldsmith who produced only a few great works for which he is remembered, 1768 and 1748 both mark the production of one of these works, so that 40 either heralded his spoof of the sentimental genre, A Good-Natured Man, or his politically charged poem The Deserted Village. So, do we place the 40-year old Goldsmith in a satirical or political humour? Continue reading “No. 6: Oliver Goldsmith at 40”

No. 5: Terry Pratchett at 40


Born on the 24th April 1948, Terry Pratchett turned 40 in 1988. At this time he was on the ascendant with a great deal of his success still to come; though he was not yet made a knight (that would be 2009), nor even received an OBE (that would be aged 50 in 1998), at 40 years old his reputation was forming and fanbase growing as his now-celebrated Discworld series left its infancy and Pratchett consolidated the direction of these novels. Continue reading “No. 5: Terry Pratchett at 40”