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Spike Milligan Biography | Poet

Photo of Spike Milligan

Terrance Allen (Spike) Milligan was born on April 16, 1918, in Ahmednagar, India to his Irish father, Captain Leo Alphonso Milligan, MSM, RA (1890–1969), who was serving in the British Indian Army and his mother, Florence Mary Winifred Kettleband (1893–1990) who was English. He was considered an army brat and traveled extensively with his family in his early years. He attended the Convent of Jesus and Mary, Poona, and later at St Paul's High School, Rangoon. He spent the better part of his life in England.

Military Career

He served in the British Army during World War II as served as a signaller in the Royal Artillery. He had an exceptional sense of humor and attempted to keep the motivation and energy of his fellow soldiers, which was not always well-received. His military career was a successful one winning battles and receiving promotions until he was wounded at the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Literary and Entertainment Career

Spike Milligan wrote and edited many books, poems, comedy skits and later television and radio productions. It is said the Monty Python and the Flying Circus was inspired by his work. He wrote a seven volume autobiographical set about his life during World War II. He was a spirited writer and comedian. He also wrote books and poems for children. He is well known for the Goon Show which was a radio program that later became a television show.

He was also trained as a musician and loved jazz. He spent the majority of his energies in the entertainment business in different genres throughout his life. He wrote many comedic parodies as well.

As far as his writing is concerned, he wrote many nonsensical and fun pieces as well as serious ones when experiencing his dark moods. His labile personality fluctuated throughout the years. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had over ten mental breakdowns and hospitalizations.

He also performed as an actor and was involved in the theater. There was not a genre that he did not touch upon during his life. He had many interests and passions that he followed with a strong desire for communicating his sardonic comedy, serious writing and important music. He also was an illustrator and painter. His many talents kept him busy and engaging.

Family Life and Mental Health

He was married three times and had six children. His mood disorder was hard on his wives and family although his last marriage lasted until his death in 2002. He was an attractive and interesting character as well as charming towards the ladies and they enjoyed his good humor and funny personality. His moodiness was seen as an artist's temperament but he struggled with this and was tortured by his depression bouts. His bipolar disorder was intense and he experienced an emotional roller coaster ride throughout his life swinging from the center of attention to an almost catatonic state. His reputation as a manic depressive is vital to understand and during his highs he wrote and performed constantly which were followed by times where he himself noted that he was unable to participate in life.

Career and Achievements

Outside of his entertainment and artistic endeavors, he was also an environmental activist who also spoke out against domestic violence. He received the the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Comedy Awards in 1994. In 2000, he was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.


Spike Milligan died at the ripe old age of 83 on February 27, 2002 from kidney failure at his home in Rye, Sussex. To the end he was a real comedian and joked that he wanted engraved on his head stone, "I told you I was ill." The actual epitaph reads, "Love, light, peace."


Spike Milligan wrote hundreds of pieces throughout his 83 years. He was involved in every possible media that can be imagined. He excelled at comedic sketches and shows as well as dramatic productions. He did have a daughter who followed in his footsteps, becoming an actress in one of his plays after he had died. He was a well-loved man with a tremendous ability at an almost genius level and his plethora of work is filled with many emotions and experiences. His body of work is a tremendous gift and his career accomplishments were many. 

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