Graves did not like John Milton. His puritanical severity was one thing; the poetry was the other. To Graves, Paradise Lost was an artificial construction chiefly concerned with impressing readers and enhancing the reputation of its author. It lacked the magical ingredient that Graves demanded in his own poetry.
In order to come to terms with the great poet, and his own obsessions, Graves embarked on The Story of Marie Powell, Wife to Mr. Milton, a novel told from Miltons wifes point of view. Published in January 1943, and despite mixed reviews, it sold well.
The first edition of 9,420 sold out and another impression of 3000 was called for within a fortnight. The American edition sold 15,000 copies at $3.50 before publication.