John Bunyan
The Pilgrim's Progress


"Then I saw that there was a way to Hell, even from the gates of Heaven" (The Pilgrim's Progress Part I)

John Bunyan was born in 1628 at Elstow. His father was a poor Bedfordshire tinker and it was initially his intention to follow that trade too after he had learned to read and write at the local school. As a boy he was haunted by dreams in which he imagined himself demons stealing him away. Such strange visions would endure into his later life and no doubt influenced his writing greatly.

Between 1644 and 1646, Bunyan was stationed at Newport Pagnell, having been enlisted into the Parliamentary Army. He married his first wife Margaret Bentley (a Puritan) in 1649, and through her got to know certain religious writings that would influence him, including Dent's Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven and Bayly's Practice of Piety. He converted and joined his wife's church, becoming in 1655 Nonconformist preacher in Bedford. During this time he published two works, Some Gospel Truths Opened (1656) and A Vindication (1657).

After Bentley's death (leaving four children), he married his second wife Elizabeth and gained a good reputation as a preacher. However, after Charles II's restoration in 1660, Puritans were no longer able to worship freely and he was imprisoned in November of that year for unlicensed preaching. In Bedford County Jail for twelve years, he wrote The Holy City, or The New Jerusalem (1665), Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666), and A Confession of my Faith, and a Reason of My Practice (1672). He also began work on the first part of his most famous work, the allegorical tale The Pilgrim's Progress towards the end of his incarceration.

Bunyan was reappointed pastor of the same church after his release; but was also sent back to prison in 1677. Again, he wrote, this time completing Part 1 of The Pilgrim's Progress. In later years he continued to write and preach, publishing The Holy War in 1682 and the second volume of The Pilgrim's Progress in 1684. Despite achieving crowds of hundreds, he was not imprisoned or troubled again, dying in 1688.

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