John Bunyan 1628–88

  • Ian McGowan
Part of the St. Martin’s Anthologies of English Literature book series (AEL)


Bunyan was born near Bedford, the son of a metal-worker, and had a local education. He served in the parliamentary army in the Civil War. His early reading was in the Bible and in works of piety and Protestant history. After joining a nonconformist church in 1653, he took to preaching in Bedford; arrested for this in 1660, since he was unlicensed, he spent almost all of a twelve-year period in jail: on his release he became pastor at the church, but was reimprisoned in 1676. During the first period in prison, he wrote several books, notably Grace abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666), the record of his progress from sin to religion. During the second, he completed the first part of The Pilgrim’s Progress (published 1678; second part, 1684). The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (1680) is an allegory of crime and punishment; The Holy War (1682) an allegory of spiritual struggle. In the allegory of his most famous work, the author dreams of Christian’s journey from the City of Destruction, through areas of test and temptation, to the Celestial City. Its style blends the imagery of the Bible with the vivid simplicity of a realistic novel.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 1989

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  • Ian McGowan

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