To mark the 400th year anniversary of Milton's birth, there is a year-long set of events taking place in various locations throughout the United Kingdom. The following list includes those known to be taking place at the two ancient universities and in London.
On display at the Bodleian Library is an exhibit arranged by Sharon Achinstein featuring Miltonia from Oxford's holdings. The exhibit runs through 26 April 2008.
A full slate of events throughout the year begins with the Lady Margaret Lectures featuring Quentin Skinner, “John Milton as a Theorist of Liberty” (30 January), Colin Burrow, “Milton's Singularity” (27 February), Sharon Achinstein, “Milton's Poetry vs. Prose” (7 May), Geoffrey Hill, “Milton as Muse” (29 October), and Christopher Ricks, “Milton and ‘The Best Criticism of Any Work’ ” (26 November). All lectures begin at 5:15 pm in Room 3, Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 8 Mill Lane, Cambridge. Admission is free and all are welcome.
There are two exhibits already underway. “Living at this Hour: John Milton 1608-2008,” located at the University Library Exhibition Centre, West Road, Cambridge, runs from 15 January to 12 July 2008. This exhibition explores Milton's influence in his own lifetime and beyond. Treasures on display include documents from the University Archives recording Milton's time as a student at the University, rare early editions of Milton's works, and the extraordinary autograph Milton manuscript from Trinity College. Further details can be found at http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/exhibitions/Milton/. Admission is free.
“Milton in the Old Library,” will be on display from 17 January to 18 December 2008 at the Old Library, Christ's College, St Andrew's Street, Cambridge. It is based upon the College's extensive collection of Milton materials and will be open to the public every Thursday, 2:00-4:45 pm. For group visits at other times by appointment, contact can be made through email or phone (firstname.lastname@example.org/01223334950/334905). Admission is free. For more information see http://www.christs.cam.ac.uk/milton400/exhibition.htm.
Milton's Comus, together with an antimasque newly written by John Kinsella and commissioned for the Milton 400th Anniversary will be performed at Christ's College, St Andrew's Street, Cambridge, in the Fellows' Garden on 19, 20, 21 June, and in the Hall on 22 and 24 June 2008. Performances by Christ's College Amateur Dramatic Society in conjunction with Cambridge University Marlowe Society will begin at 8:30 pm (provisional).
A reading of Milton's poem Paradise Lost, starting at 9:00 am, with live relay online will take place on Thursday, 23 October 2008, at the Drama Studio, Faculty of English, 9 West Road, Cambridge. Admission is free. All are welcome to drop in and out at any point. The performance will end around 8:00 pm with drinks.
A concert of music of Milton's time performed by Fretwork, David Rowland, and the Choir of Christ's College, and readings of his poetry and prose by Sam West will take place at Christ's College on Saturday, 6 December 2008, 8:00 pm, at The Hall, Christ's College, St Andrew's Street, Cambridge.
The Essex Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Peter Holman, will perform Handel's oratorio based on Milton's Poems (“L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed Il Moderato”) on Sunday, 7 December 2008, at 6:00 pm in Trinity College Chapel, Trinity Street, Cambridge. Tickets and further information are available at http://cambridgeearlymusic.org.
For additional information see “Darkness Visible,” a web resource for school and university students studying Paradise Lost: http://www.christs.cam.ac.uk/darknessvisible, for general information and ticket inquiries see http://www.christs.cam.ac.uk/milton400.
The major event for Miltonists will be the Ninth International Milton Symposium on 7-11 July 2008 conducted under the auspices of the Institute of English Studies of the University of London. Various events are planned in concert with the conference, including the installation of a memorial City plaque at Bread Street on the northeast side (at Mitsubishi's new Bow Bells House) after the conference. For other events in London, one can find information at http://www.stgilescripplegate.org.uk/frhistory.htm.