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John Bunyan

Civilization:British: England
Era: Stuart
1628–1688Field of Renown:literature: Author


John Bunyan was a puritan preacher who lived during and after the English Civil Wars who is best known as the author of Pilgrim's Progress, one of the most influential and widely read books every printed in English. It is an allegorical story of a Christian's journey along the "straight and narrow" path as he encounters a great many interesting characters and fends off the snares of the devil. The stories are populated with characters such as "Mr. Worldly-wise", "Wanton", "Talkative", "Mr. Despondency" and "Much Afraid", who are encountered in their travels in and around places such as "Vanity Fair", "Doubting Castle", and "The Celestial City". But the contrived names and locations are just trappings of a highly imaginative and insightful masterpiece, written in beautiful prose.

Bunyan fought on the side of Parliament during the English civil War, but did not become a serious in his Christian faith until several years afterward. In 1655 he began preaching and gained a following during the Commonwealth. After the restoration he was arrested and imprisoned twice for "preaching without a license", and it is thought that be began working on his masterpiece while in prison. He was a contemporary of Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost touching some of the same themes as Pilgrim's Progress. They are together considered the two greatest works of 17th century Christian literature, but of the two, Bunyan's work was by far the more widely read. Almost every English Christian home had a copy, along side the Bible, right up until the twentieth century, and many of the characters, anecdotes and place names have passed into common usage.

Key events during the life of John Bunyan

Year Event
1628 Birth of John Bunyan, son of a Tinker.
1644 Served on the side of Parliament during English Civil War.
1649 Married.
1655 Became a 'Baptist' preacher with strong Calvinist leanings.
1660 Imprisoned for 'preaching without a licence.
1675 Imprisoned again for 'preaching without a licence.
1678 Publishes Pilgrim's Progress, part I.
1684 Publishes Pilgrim's Progress, part II.
1688 Death of John Bunyan

Book Links
Pilgrim's Progress  by  John Bunyan


Story LinksBook Links
Bunyan, 1628-1688  in  Saints and Heroes Since the Middle Ages  by  Hodges
Bunyan—'The Pilgrim's Progress'  in  English Literature for Boys and Girls  by  Marshall
Pilgrim's Progress'  in  Awakening of Europe  by  Synge

Image Links
John Bunayn in Saints and Heroes Since the Middle Ages During his imprisonment Bunyan wrote the 'Pilgrim's Progress.'  in English Literature for Boys and Girls

Contemporary Short Biography
Oliver Cromwell Military leader of Parliament who headed the Commonwealth government after death of Charles I.
Charles II of England Restored to the throne after death of Cromwell. Presided over the great fire and plague of London.
John Milton John Milton was friend of Cromwell and a poet. His most famous work was Paradise Lost.