Thomas Corns, MA, DPhil, FBA, FRHistS, FEA

Image of Thomas Corns
Thomas Corns
Emeritus Professor


Educated at Brasenose and University Colleges, Oxford, and the Maximilianeum Foundation, Munich. Degrees: first class in the Honours School of English Language and Literature (BA 1972; MA 1978); D.Phil. (1978) (thesis entitled Studies in the Development of Milton’s Prose Style, supervised by Professor John Carey and Sir Christopher Ball).


Research Interests:

  • Seventeenth-century English Literature

Main Publications:


  •  The Development of Milton’s Prose Style (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982).
  • (With B. H. Rudall) Computers and Literature: A Practical Guide (Cambridge, Mass., and Tunbridge Wells: Abacus Press, 1987).
  • The Literature of Controversy: Polemical Strategies from Milton to Junius, original essays by several hands, edited with an introduction (London: Frank Cass, 1987). This appeared first as volume 9.2 of Prose Studies.
  • Milton’s Language, Blackwell’s Language Library (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990).
  • (with Peter J. Kitson) Coleridge and the Armoury of the Human Mind: essays on his prose writing, original essays by several hands, edited with an introduction (London: Frank Cass, 1991). This appeared first as volume 13.3 of Prose Studies.
  • Uncloistered Virtue: English Political Literature, 1640-1660, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992).
  • The Cambridge Companion to English Poetry, Donne to Marvell, original essays by several hands, edited with an introduction and chronology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). This collection includes an essay by Corns on Carew, Suckling and Lovelace, pp. 200-20. Issued simultaneously in paper- and hard-back and frequently reprinted.  Republished in 2001 by the Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press under license for sale in the People’s Republic of China.
  • (with J. A. Downie) “Telling People What to Think”: Early-Eighteenth-Century Periodicals from The Review to The Rambler,” original essays by several hands, edited with an introduction (London: Frank Cass, 1993);. The collection appeared first as volume 16.1 of  Prose Studies.
  • Regaining Paradise Lost (London and New York: Longman,  1994). Issued simultaneously in paper- and hard-back.
  • (with David Loewenstein) The Emergence of Quaker Writing: Dissenting Literature in Seventeenth-Century England , a collection of original essays by several hands (London: Frank Cass, 1995), edited with an essay,  “‘No Man’s Copy’: The Critical Problem of Fox’s Journal,” pp. 99-111. The collection appeared first as volume 17.3 of Prose Studies.
  • John Milton: The Prose Works (New York: Twayne, 1998).
  • The Royal Image: Representations of Charles I, a collection of new essays by several hands, edited, with an essay on Charles before his accession (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1999).
  • Blackwell  Companion  to Milton, a collection of new essays by several hands, edited (with essays on Milton’s English and on his Nativity Ode) (Oxford: Blackwell,  2001). Winner of the Irene Samuel Prize of the Milton Society of America.
  • A History of Seventeenth-Century  English Literature (Oxford: Blackwell,  2006).
  • (with Gordon Campbell,  John Hale and Fiona Tweedie)  John Milton and the Manuscript of De Doctrina Christiana (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). Winner of the James Holly Hanford Prize of the Milton Society of America. This project was funded by a major research grant of over £60k from the Art and Humanities Research Board; Corns was the principal investigator
  • (With Gordon Campbell) John Milton: Life, Work, and Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press,  2008). Winner of the James Holly Hanford Prize of the Milton Society of America.
  • (With David Loewenstein and Ann Hughes, eds.) The Complete Works of Gerrard Winstanley, 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
  • (With Tony Claydon) Religion,  Culture, and National Community in the 1670s (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2011);  edited collection with an introduction by the editors.
  • The Milton Encyclopedia (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012) (editor and author of c. 400 articles).
  • A New Companion to Milton, edited with several essays (Boston and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016).


  • “‘An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwel’s Return from Ireland,’ lines 53-58,” The Explicator, 35 (1976), 11-2.
  • “Punctuation in Milton’s Vernacular Prose,” Notes and Queries, n.s., 25 (1978), 18-9.
  • “Imagery in Civil War Polemic: Milton, Overton and the Eikon Basilike,” Milton Quarterly, 14 (1980), 1-6.
  • “Obscenity, Slang and Indecorum in Milton’s English Prose,” Prose Studies, 3  (1980), 1-14.
  • “New Light on the Left Hand: Contemporary Views of Milton’s Prose Style,” Durham University Journal, 72 (1980), 177-81.
  • “Milton’s Quest for Respectability,” Modern Language Review, 77 (1982), 769-79.
  • “‘A Mask Presented at Ludlow-Castle,’ line 231,” Notes and Queries, n.s., 29 (1982), 22-4.
  • (with W. A. Speck and J. A. Downie) “Archetypal Mystification: Polemic and Reality in English Political Literature, 1640-1750,” Eighteenth-Century Life, 7 (1982), 1-27.
  • review article: “The Complete Prose Works of John Milton in Retrospect,” Prose Studies, 7 (1984), 179-86.
  • “The Image of London in the English Civil War,” Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies, 2 (1984), 21-8.
  • “Publication and Politics, 1640-1661: An SPSS-based Account of the Thomason Collection of Civil War Tracts,” Literary and Linguistic Computing, 1 (1986), 74-84.
  • “Methods and Applications: English Studies,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 6 (1991), 127-30.
  • “Cultural and Genre Markers in Milton’s Paradise Lost,” Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire 69 (1991), 555-62.
  • “Milton,” The Year’s Work in English Studies 1989 (1991), 328-34.
  • “Milton,” The Year’s Work in English Studies 1990 (1993), 336-41.
  • “Milton,” The Year’s Work in English Studies 1991 (1993), 221-30.
  • “Milton,” The Year’s Work in English Studies 1992 (1995), 250-60.
  • “‘No Man’s Copy’: The Critical Problem of Fox’s Journal,” Prose Studies, 17.3 (1994). 99-111.
  • (with John Hale, Gordon Campbell, Fiona Tweedie and David Holmes) “The Provenance of Christian Doctrine, attributed to Milton,” Milton Quarterly, 31 (1997), 67-118.
  • “The Poetry of the Caroline Court,” the 1997 British Academy Warton Lecture on English Poetry, Proceedings of the British Academy, 97 (1998), 51-73.
  • (with Jim Daems) “A Bibliographical Guide to the Study of Milton’s Prose,” Milton Quarterly, 39 (1999), 1-21.
  • “Milton and Presbyterianism,” Milton Studies of Korea, 10.2  (2000), 337-54.
  • “‘With Unaltered Brow’: Milton and the Son of God,” Milton Studies, 42 (2002), 106-121.
  • “Afterword [to a special section, ‘Reconceiving  Text Analysis’],” Literary and Linguistic Computing, 18 (2003), 221-23.
  • (with David  L. Hoover) “The Authorship  of the Postscript to An Answer to a Booke Entituled, An Humble Remonstrance,” Milton Quarterly, 38 (2004), 59-75. 
  • "Milton's Churches", Studies in Church History, 48 (2012), 184-200.

Book Chapters

  • “Ideology in the Poemata (1645),” in A. Low and J. Freeman (eds.), Urbane Milton: The Latin Poetry (Milton Studies, 19) (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1984), pp. 195-203.
  • “Literary Theory and Computer-based Criticism: Current Problems and Future Prospects,” in E. Brunet (ed.), Méthodes quantitatives et informatiques dans l’étude des textes (Geneva: Slatkine, 1986), pp. 222-27.
  • “The Freedom of Reader Response: Milton’s Areopagitica  and Lilburne’s Christian Mans Triall,” in R. C. Richardson and G. M. Ridden (eds.), Freedom and the English Revolution (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), pp. 93-110.
  • (with Margarette E. Smith) “Literature,” in S. P. Q. Rahtz (ed.), Computers and Teaching in the Humanities (Chichester: Ellis Horwood, 1987), pp. 104-15.
  • “Milton’s Prose,” in Dennis Danielson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Milton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 183-96.
  • “Milton’s Observations upon the Articles of Peace: Ireland under English Eyes,” in D. Loewenstein and J. Turner (eds.), Politics, Poetics, and Hermeneutics in Milton’s Prose (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 123-34.
  • “The Plurality of Miltonic Ideology,” in T. Healy and J. Sawday (eds.), Literature and the English Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 110-26.
  • “John Milton, Italianate Humanist, Northern European Protestant, Englishman,” in G. Campbell, M. Di Cesare, R. Flannagan, N. Harris (eds.), Milton and Italy (Binghamton: MRTS, 1991), pp. 1-7.
  • “‘That prerogative over human’: Paradise Lost and the Telling of Divine History,” in R. T. Eriksen and H. E. Aarset (eds.), The Historical Development of Narrative (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter,  1994), pp. 283-91.
  • “Milton and the characteristics of a free commonwealth,” in Quentin Skinner, David Armitage and Armand Himy (eds.), Milton and Republicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 25-42.
  • “‘Varnish on a harlot’s  cheek’: John Milton and the Hierarchies of Secular and Divine Literature,” in Helen Wilcox, Richard Todd, and Alasdair Macdonald (eds.), Sacred and Profane: Secular and Devotional Interplay in Early Modern British Literature (Amsterdam: VU University Press, 1996), pp. 275-82.
  • “Milton, Bernini, and the Fragility of Representation,” in Roy Eriksen (ed.), Contexts of Baroque: Theatre, Metamorphosis, and Design (Oslo: Novus Press, 1997), pp. 206-218.
  • “Bunyan’s Grace Abounding and the Dynamics of Restoration Nonconformity,” in Neil Rhodes (ed.), History, Language, and the Politics of English Renaissance Prose (Tempe, Arizona: MRTS, 1997)’ pp. 259-70..
  • “Milton’s antiprelatical tracts and the marginality of doctrine,” in Stephen B. Dobranski and John P. Rumrich (eds.), Milton and Heresy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 39-48.
  • “Milton’s Prose,” in Dennis Danielson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Milton, revised edition  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 84-97.
  • “The Early Modern Search Engine: Indices, Title Pages, Marginalia and Contents,” in Neil Rhodes and Jonathan Sawday (eds.), The Renaissance Computer: Knowledge technology in the first age of print (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 95-105.
  • “Radical Pamphleteering,” in N. H. Keeble (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Writing of the English Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp.71-86.
  • “Milton before ‘Lycidas’,” in Graham Parry and Joad Raymond (eds.), Milton and the Terms of Liberty (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2002), pp. 23-36.
  • “Bunyan, Milton and the Diversity of Radical Protestant Writing,” in N. H. Keeble (ed.), John Bunyan: Reading Dissenting Writing (Bern: Peter Lang,  2002), pp. 21-38.
  • “Literature and London,” in David Loewenstein and Janel Mueller,  The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 544-564.
  • “Literature and History,” in Barry Coward (ed.), A Companion to Stuart Britain (Oxford: Blackwell,  2003), pp. 166-86.
  • “Milton before ‘Lycidas.’” in Graham Parry and Joad Raymond  (eds.), Milton and the Terms of Liberty  (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2002), pp. 23-36
  • “Bunyan, Milton and the Diversity of Radical Protestant Writing,” in N. H. Keeble (ed.), John Bunyan: Reading Dissenting Writing  (Oxford and Bern: Peter Lang, 2002), pp. 21-38.
  • “Arise Evans” and “Eleanour Challenor”, New Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Clarendon, 2002).
  • “Milton and Class”, in David Brooks and Brian Kiernan (eds.), Running Wild: Essays, Fictions and Memoirs Presented to Michael Wilding (Sydney: Manohar, 2004), pp. 55-68.
  • “The road to George Hill: the heretical dynamic of Winstanley’s early prose,” in David Loewenstein and John Marshall (eds.), Literature and Heresy in Early Modern English Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 185-202.
  • “John Milton, Roger Williams, and the Limits of Toleration”, in Sharon Achinstein and Elizabeth Sauer (eds.), Milton and Toleration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 72-85. This collection won the Irene Samuel prize of the Milton Society of America.
  • “The Early Lives of John Milton,” in Kevin Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker (eds), Writing Lives: Biography and Textuality, Identity and Representation in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 75-90.
  • “Milton and the Limitations of Englishness”, in David Loewenstein and Paul Stevens (eds), Early Modern Nationalism and Milton’s England (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), pp. 205-16.


  • (editor, with David Loewenstein) Paradise Lost, Complete Works of John Milton, vol. I (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

Other Roles

  • (with Gordon Campbell), General Editor, Complete Works of John Milton, 11 vols.  (Oxford: Oxford University Press)