Milton's Contract (1667)

Source: Masson, D., The Life of John Milton and History of his Time, 7 vols (London: MacMillan & Co., 1881), 6: 509-11

Milton's Contract (1667), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

Back | Record | Images | Commentaries: [1]
Record-ID: uk_1667

Permanent link:

Full title:
John Milton's contract with Samuel Simmons for the publication of Paradise Lost

Full title original language:

The contract between the poet John Milton and the stationer Samuel Simmons, concerning the publication of Paradise Lost, is the earliest agreement between an author and a publisher for which there exists documentary evidence. The commentary suggests that, while the terms of the contract do not necessarily reveal anything substantive about how authors in the mid-seventeenth century understood the nature of the rights they had in their manuscript work, it is nevertheless significant. Since the early eighteenth century, Milton, his work, and his contract with Simmons, were all co-opted, in a variety of ways, to service contemporary debates about the status of the author, about author-publisher relations, and about the nature of the relationship between an author and his work within the context of the emerging copyright regime.

1 Commentary:

  • Rose, M., Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press, 1993)

  • Loewenstein, J., The Author's Due: Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2002)

  • Lindenbaum, P., 'Authors and Publishers in the Late Seventeenth Century, II: Brabazon Aylmer and the Mysteries of the Trade', The Library, (2002): 32-57

  • Lindenbaum, P., 'Authors and Publishers in the Late Seventeenth Century: New Evidence on their Relations', The Library, 6th ser., 17 (1995): 250-69

  • Lindenbaum, P., 'Milton's Contract', Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J., 10 (1991-92): 439-54

Related documents in this database:
1618: Daniel's The Collection of the Historie of England
1751: Tonson v. Walker

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1667

Location: N/A

Language: English

Source: Masson, D., The Life of John Milton and History of his Time, 7 vols (London: MacMillan & Co., 1881), 6: 509-11

Persons referred to:
Milton, John
Simmons, Samuel

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:


author/publisher relations
authors' remuneration
authorship, legal concept of
editions, new
natural rights
property theory, authors' property

Responsible editor: Ronan Deazley

Our Partners

Copyright statement

You may copy and distribute the translations and commentaries in this resource, or parts of such translations and commentaries, in any medium, for non-commercial purposes as long as the authorship of the commentaries and translations is acknowledged, and you indicate the source as Bently & Kretschmer (eds), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) (

You may not publish these documents for any commercial purposes, including charging a fee for providing access to these documents via a network. This licence does not affect your statutory rights of fair dealing.

Although the original documents in this database are in the public domain, we are unable to grant you the right to reproduce or duplicate some of these documents in so far as the images or scans are protected by copyright or we have only been able to reproduce them here by giving contractual undertakings. For the status of any particular images, please consult the information relating to copyright in the bibliographic records.

Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) is co-published by Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ, UK and CREATe, School of Law, University of Glasgow, 10 The Square, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK