Review of the year

This time last year the IJBS Executive Committee set itself some ‘challenges’ for 2014, most of which (though not all!) have been met:

Xmas Greeting IJBS 2014

  • the first was to redesign The Recorder, which appeared last June for the first time in a magnificent electronic edition supervised by Nathalie Collé-Bak, now available to download;
  • the IJBS was beginning to suffer from the lack of a constitution and bye-laws. With the best of current practice in mind, and working from David Gay’s account of the role of the officers, the Executive Committee produced a new set of documents, overseen by our past Presidents, which are now also available on this site;
  • in December 2013, the possibility of a meeting at Harlington Manor was a mere glint in our eyes. Thanks to the diligence of General Secretary Bob Owens, and to the hospitality of the Blakeman family, it became a reality on 23 May 2014. As you will see below, such meetings are now a feature of IJBS;
  • finally, David Parry revised and updated one of our major resources, the online and fully-searchable Bunyan Bibliography, adding 167 new references for the period 2010 to 2014.

We had promised you that this site would be revamped, and in particular that the addition of payment buttons would allow you to renew your membership online. This has not yet been accomplished due to delays beyond the control of the Executive Committee, but we are now back on track and, as I write, ‘e-commerce’ solutions are being put in place. We are confident that you will soon be able to renew your subscription online. As this is put into operation, you may experience some small disruptions to the website in the next few weeks.

 Other developments, we had not fully anticipated :

    • following the regional Harlington meeting in 2014, an IJBS one-day conference has now been set up by David Walker and Bob Owens. This will take place on 10 April 2015 at the University of Bedfordshire. Many thanks to our two officers for organising this day, which promises to be a great success and a good opportunity for our members to meet again. You can download the call for papers here. Please do not forget to register to attend;
    • we have instituted two new kinds of membership: an Institutional Membership for libraries, and an Honorary Membership. In November 2014, Stanley Fish, Isabel Rivers, Terry Waite and David Wykes accepted to become the first Honorary Members of the IJBS. From 2016 our members will be able to nominate personalities who will be voted on at the AGM;
    • IJBS publicity leaflets have been prepared by our General Secretary and members should all have received some copies. Please distribute them as you see fit as they are a good way of increasing the visibility of the Society;
    • finally, although we knew that the Aix 2016 conference was shaping up, little did we know that we would be the recipients of a major private donation that would allow young researchers to join us (see the Post below). At this festive season, let us thank our anonymous benefactor.

May I also take this opportunity to announce that four wonderful scholars have accepted to give plenaries at the 2016 conference : Alec Ryrie (Durham), Andrew Spicer (Oxford Brookes), Alexandra Walsham (Cambridge) and Helen Wilcox (Bangor). We look forward to welcoming them in Aix. The call for papers will be out in January, so watch this space.

In the coming year, your Executive Committee will do its utmost to ensure new benefits for the IJBS. There will be the Bedford day-conference, another issue of The Recorder, preparations for Aix 2016 will mature, and this site should offer the opportunity to renew membership online. As I urged you last spring in The Recorder, please do not hesitate to get in touch to suggest new ideas, propose directions in which you think IJBS should develop in the near future and ponder opportunities for regional meetings.

None of this could have been achieved without the time and dedication of the IJBS officers: Nathalie Collé-Bak, David Gay, Galen Johnson, Bob Owens and David Walker.

 Wherever you are, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year,

 Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université

 

IJBS day-conference: Representing Dissent in the Long Eighteenth Century

“Representing Dissent in the Long Eighteenth Century”

A Regional Day Conference of the IJBS organized by Bob Owens and David Walker in association with the University of Bedfordshire and Northumbria University will take place at the University of Bedfordshire, Bedford Campus, on Friday 10 April 2015.

This conference is open to anyone interested in Bunyan and in the ways in which Dissent and Dissenters were represented during the period from about 1660 through to the early nineteenth century. The term ‘represented’ may be taken to include self-representation and representation by others in various forms of expression and communication, including, for example, literature, art, the theatre, news media, high and popular culture, sermons, and political discourse and propaganda. Please send a title and very brief summary of a 20-minute paper – no later than 1 February 2015 – to: Bob Owens (bob.owens@beds.ac.uk) and David Walker (david5.walker@northumbria.ac.uk).

You can download the flier and the registration details here.

Honorary Members

The international John Bunyan Society is delighted to announce that four distinguished scholars and personalities have been honored with Life Membership on 1st November 2014:

Professor Stanley Fish

Professor Isabel Rivers

Terry Waite CBE

Dr David L. Wykes

“Life-membership is conferred upon scholars, experts, or public personalities of international standing whose life and work have promoted awareness of Protestant history and literature and/or contributed significantly to research, teaching and public engagement in the field of Protestantism and Dissenting studies.”

For more information about our Honorary Members, click here.

A donation for IJBS

It is with very great pleasure that I announce that an anonymous donor has donated the sum of £10,000 (€12,500/US$16,500) to the International John Bunyan Society.

The donation is primarily intended to establish a number of bursaries for doctoral students, and for young researchers not in full-time employment, who wish to attend and present a paper at the 2016 triennial conference in Aix-en-Provence, with the remainder to be targeted towards key strategic areas identified by the Executive Committee for the development of the Society.

Thanks to the bursaries, young scholars will be given a unique opportunity to present their work and projects at the conference. More information about the application and selection process will be posted in due course on the website, but may I encourage all supervisors to start publicising the bursaries as widely as possible in their institutions and among their students.

I know all members will all join me in expressing our deepest thanks to our donor whose generosity will ensure that the IJBS carries on promoting the study of Bunyan and the history and culture of Dissent, through a renewed attention to its young and talented scholars.

Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université

Aix-en-Provence 2016

“Voicing Dissent in the Long Reformation”

The Eighth Triennial Conference of the International John Bunyan Society

(Aix-en-Provence, 6-9 July 2016)

The preparations for the Aix-en-Provence triennial conference of the IJBS are well under way and we have posted a preliminary announcement on our ‘Conference’ page. Please check the page regularly as we will keep updating it. The Call for Papers will be issued in January 2015 and proposals for papers and panels will be accepted until 31st May 2015.

We are looking forward to hearing from you all in due course and welcoming you to Provence!

Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université

By Guillaume 1995 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Sénanque Abbey. By Guillaume 1995 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Appeal from Bunyan Meeting, Bedford

The IJBS is happy to relay this appeal from Bunyan Meeting, Bedford

‘Bunyan Meeting in Mill Street, Bedford is one of the most important Nonconformist churches in the UK. Its origins go back to 1650, when a group of men and women began worshipping in Bedford outside the confines of the Church of England. In 1672, shortly after John Bunyan was elected pastor, the congregation purchased an orchard in Mill Lane (now Mill Street), and a barn in the orchard was licensed for preaching.

Capture d’écran 2014-08-19 à 17.29.14

And so began the history of Bunyan Meeting. The Reverend Christopher Damp, the present minister, is the twenty-first minister of the church. The building that stands today is the third purpose-built church on the site. It was opened in 1849 and the schoolrooms which back onto Castle Lane were added in 1866.

Today, Bunyan Meeting is a thriving town-centre Church, which as well as still holding two services on a Sunday, is open throughout the week, Tuesday–Saturday, and is ‘home’ to various community groups as diverse as Sight Concern and Bedford Town Band.

 Why this appeal?

Unfortunately, time and the elements have caught up with the buildings and today’s congregation and trustees find themselves facing a repair bill of over £660,000. The roof over the schoolrooms, which was only re-slated about 30 years ago, has to be replaced as the Spanish slates which were used have reacted with our environment and climate and holes have appeared in as many as 60% of them’.

Carry on reading about the Appeal and how you can contribute here.

Bunyan in chains

We can gain a remarkable insight into the use of Bunyan’s works thanks to a copy of the 1692 folio that has just been donated to the Angus Library and Archive, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, by the Faringdon Baptist Church, in Berkshire. While working in that Library, I was astonished to be shown what I believe is the only chained copy of the folio in existence. A portion of the rusty chain is still attached to the book, and a fly-leaf note, bearing the name of Philip Farmer, describes how the book was to be used in its original home :

This book was given by Phillip ffarmer to the Church of Christ meeting at their meeting house in Westbrook at ffaringdon, Constituted of such only as are baptized upon profession of their faith; to abide fixed in their meeting house for the use of all such whether members or hearers as shall resort thither at convinient seasons to read in it or hear any part of it read; Never to be moved from their present meeting house so long as they or their succcessours of the same faith and order shall possess and use the same for their meeting house; and if ever that church so constituted shall remove to another meeting place or be [letters deleted] divided, it is the will of the donor that the greatest number of such members as afores[ai]d that shall hold together shall possess and enjoy this book for common use as aforesaid This is declared by the donor the first day of ffebruary anno dom[in]j 1711

                                                                                                Phillip ffarmer

Witness. Tho: Langley

This is a unique document, describing how the Bunyan folio was to be permanently kept in the meeting house, for all those wishing to read it, or be read to from it, when stepping into the building. The volume does not possess the frontispiece, the list of subscribers, or the index dedication.

Faringdon Baptist Church, Bromsgrove face, http://www.geograph.org.uk © Roger Templeman, CC BY-SA 2.0

Faringdon Baptist Church, Bromsgrove face,http://www.geograph.org.uk © Roger Templeman, CC BY-SA 2.0

A 19th-century loose sheet inserted in the volume, simply entitled ‘Baptist Church, Faringdon,’ reveals the full contents of a second fly-leaf, which is unfortunately torn. The text runs:

‘A book of Bunyan’s works, originally presented to the Church in the year 1711, by Philip Farmer, and removed by Thomas Mace to prevent it being stolen in the year 1761, was restored by Mr. J. Broad, of Reading, May 21st 1888, particulars of each circumstances being written on the fly-lead of the book, now chained to [an] antique oak lectern in its original position in the Chapel’.

The Angus Library and Archive now possesses three copies of the folio, whose editorial history might still yield some surprises. For those unfamiliar with their wonderful records, see their website, http://theangus.rpc.ox.ac.uk

With many thanks to Emma Walsh and Emily Burgoyne.

Anne Page, Oxford, July 2014