John Bunyan Additional Biography

Biography

ph_0111201523-Bunyan.jpg John Bunyan Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Both the career and the writings of John Bunyan (BUHN-yuhn) are full of interest for the student of the seventeenth century, for his career illustrates the difficulties faced by a convinced Baptist in a society that, after the restoration of Charles II, took a poor view of Puritan views in general. His writings speak clearly of the convictions that enabled Bunyan and others to endure social intolerance and oppression, and at least one of his works—The Pilgrim’s Progress—is more than a personal and sociological record: It is a work that many generations of readers have regarded as a wonderfully allegorized account of each individual’s spiritual experience.

Bunyan was one of the least learned and socially humblest of men to attain enduring literary fame. He was born in Elstow, in rural Bedfordshire, to Thomas Bunyan and Margaret Bentley. His father was a tinker, a hereditary trade to which, in due time, Bunyan himself was apprenticed. Baptized on November 30, 1628, he was brought up in an atmosphere of strict Puritanism which imposed checks on his youthful behavior and caused him to develop a profound sense of sin. Bunyan believed, in later years, that his youthful high spirits were displays of vice.

At sixteen, he joined the Parliamentary army in the Civil War and took part in the victorious campaigns of 1645. In 1646, he married a poor, pious woman whose only dowry was two religious books. Her name has been lost to history, but when she died in 1658, she left behind four children, including a blind daughter, Mary. His wife’s piety and study of the two books added to his habit of searching his soul for sin. Happily, in 1653, he joined a Baptist society and regained his equilibrium. He soon became a preacher and drew large crowds of laboring people, causing the Royalists to look on him with such suspicion that after the Restoration in 1660 and the passage of laws that forbade meetings hostile to the Established Church, Bunyan was brought to trial for refusing to give up his preaching. During his confinement, Bunyan’s family, headed by his second wife, Elizabeth, was penniless and often starving, and Bunyan suffered further pangs of guilt. Yet he declined opportunities to renounce his religious belief and remained in prison for twelve years, enjoying only short intervals of freedom. This confinement was at least to the advantage of posterity, for in prison he had ample leisure to...

(The entire section is 990 words.)

Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

John Bunyan was born in the village of Elstow, in Bedfordshire (one mile south of Bedford), England, in November, 1628. The parish register of Elstow records his baptism on November 30. His father, Thomas Bunyan, a native of Elstow, married three times between January, 1623, and August, 1644; John Bunyan was the first child of his father’s second marriage—on May 23, 1627, to Margaret Bentley, also of Elstow. The boy’s father was a “whitesmith,” a maker and mender of pots and kettles, although by the time the son adopted the same vocation, the job reference had changed to “tinker.” Young Bunyan attended a nearby grammar school (either the one at Bedford or another at Elstow), where he learned to read and write—but...

(The entire section is 719 words.)

Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

John Bunyan (BUHN-yuhn), the son of Thomas Bunyan and his second wife, Margaret Bentley, was baptized on November 30, 1628, in the village of Elstow, near Bedford, England. Although his ancestors had been English yeoman farmers and small landowners in Bedfordshire, his father was a whitesmith or metal craftsman, suggesting that the family fortunes had declined over generations. Bunyan himself was apprenticed at his father’s craft, though the designation changed to tinker, or mender of metal implements, and for many years he earned his living through his skill. The Bunyans were not destitute, nor were they forced to become itinerant craftsmen, for both Bunyan and his father owned a forge and workshop in Elstow. In his confessional...

(The entire section is 801 words.)

Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

John Bunyan’s writings brought him fame as a master allegorist and exponent of the plain style. While his works are informed with a powerfully consistent mythic vision, his arresting theme of individual salvation remains their most striking feature, a theme developed through strain and angst. His individualism, denying all but arbitrary grace, places the entire burden of salvation on the individual human. Even while realizing that most people would not play their part in the great drama successfully, he sought to illustrate how the individual’s journey through life might best be made.

Biography

John Bunyan was born at Elstow near Bedford, England, in November 1628. His father was a tinker, and Bunyan followed in his father's trade....

(The entire section is 340 words.)