Milton’s Cottage

A square arrangement of thirteen biscuits positioned on a dark wooden background. In the centre is an oval portrait of seventeenth-century poet John Milton, drawn with fine black lines to look like an early modern engraving. This oval portrait is nestled within a collection of brick-shaped biscuits, each featuring a different design. Many are painted with details from seventeenth-century printed materials: Milton’s name in a calligraphic font, the title of a royal proclamation, decorative letters, a tiny map, and sections of the title pages of ‘Paradise Lost A Poem’ and ‘Areopagitica; a Speech’. One rectangular biscuit features a winged figure from the first illustrated edition of ‘Paradise Lost’, painted onto a mottled beige background that looks like old paper. There is a deep red biscuit piped with gold swirling lines, based on the design of an old book spine. A small white biscuit is painted with a tiny scarlet picture of Milton’s Cottage, and, finally, there is a teal biscuit version of the sign that marks out the cottage in Chalfont St Giles.

Biscuit (cookie) flavour: Rose, which is the plant most mentioned in Paradise Lost after the Forbidden Tree.

Decoration: Royal icing base. Some designs painted onto royal icing using food colouring gels and vodka, others piped in royal icing.

Context: Inspired by Milton’s Cottage, the house in Chalfont St Giles where John Milton completed Paradise Lost. Each biscuit depicts a rare book or artefact featuring in the Milton’s Cottage collections.

Here is a key to the biscuit set: