Pilgrim’s Progress begins 100-part list of best novels

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The Pilgrim’s Progress begins The Observer‘s 100-part list of best novels written in English. Robert Mc Crum explains his enduring popularity: “The Pilgrim’s Progress is the ultimate English classic, a book that has been continuously in print, from its first publication to the present day, in an extraordinary number of editions.

There’s no book in English, apart from the Bible, to equal Bunyan’s masterpiece for the range of its readership, or its influence on writers as diverse as William Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, CS Lewis, John Steinbeck and even Enid Blyton”.

View the complete article on The Observer’s website: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/23/100-best-novels-pilgrims-progress

Harlington Manor

Capture d’écran 2013-11-18 à 15.15.01Harlington Manor (previously Harlington House) is arguably the last standing domestic building where John Bunyan is known to have been. Bunyan was interrogated there, probably in the Hall or the great parlour, after his arrest at Lower Samsell (Bedfordshire) in November 1660, by the magistrate who had issued the warrant, Sir Francis Wingate. Tradition has it that Bunyan might have spent the night after his interrogation in a room in Harlington House that was still known as ‘Bunyan’s cell’ in the nineteenth century, but there is no mention of this in Bunyan’s own account of his interrogation. Wingate was joined in the interrogation by the vicar of the nearby Harlington parish Church, William Lindall, who was referred to by Bunyan as ‘an old enemy to the truth’. Ironically, Wingate’s eldest son, also named Francis, married Lady Anne Annesley, the fourth daughter of Arthur Annesley, first earl of Anglesey, and cousin to Samuel Annesley, the Presbyterian minister. When Francis died in 1690, Anne might have shown sympathies towards the Nonconformists and three of their children, Frances, Anna Letitia and Rachel, became members of Bunyan’s former congregation in Bedford. Anna Letitia became the second wife of John Jennings, the tutor of the Dissenting Academy at Kibworth Harcourt (Leicestershire), where Philip Doddridge studied. We’d be glad to hear from any member of the Society who has more information about the episode of Bunyan’s arrest and interrogation at Harlington.

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 Harlington Manor is now in private hands, and its owners provide accommodation and tours for the public. If you happen to be in Bedfordshire, it is well worth a visit, http://harlingtonmanor.com.

room67Further reading: John Bunyan, A Relation of my Imprisonment, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, ed. Roger Sharrock (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1962); John Brown, John Bunyan (1628-1688): His Life, Times, and Work, tercentenary ed., rev. by Frank Mott Harrison (London, Glasgow, Birmingham: The Hulbert Publishing Company, 1928), p. 125-150; Beth Lynch, John Bunyan and the Language of Conviction (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2004), p. 23-33; Richard Greaves’s Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent (Stanford University Press, 2002), p. 130-145; Clergy of England Database, http://theclergydatabase.org.uk, Dissenting Academy Online, http://www.english.qmul.ac.uk/drwilliams/portal.html; David L. Wykes, ‘Jennings, John (1687/8–1723)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/14759, accessed 18 Nov 2013]; Newton E. Key, ‘Annesley, Samuel (bap. 1620, d. 1696)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2013 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/566, accessed 18 Nov 2013]. Of related interest: Harlington Church, http://www.harlingtonchurch.org.uk

The IJBS at Dr Williams’s Library

If you happen to be in London on Saturday 9 November 2013, join us for a one-day conference on dissenting experience, co-convened by Michael Davies, Anne Dunan-Page, and Joel Halcomb, in partnership with the Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies. There are distinguished members of IJBS among the speakers (Michael Davies, N. H. Keeble and Kathleen Lynch), and acting Secretary Bob Owens and UK treasurer David Walker will also be in attendance; check the accompanying blog for further details http://dissent.hypotheses.org, and download the full programme here.

© Trustees of Dr Williams's Library

© Trustees of Dr Williams’s Library

Michael Davies (scroll down for a presentation of his forthcoming edition of the Bedford Church Book) will be talking about the Bunyan Church in a paper entitled  ‘Life after Bunyan: Ebenezer Chandler and the Pastorship of the Bedford congregation’. There will be three of these conferences (2013, 2014, 2015), each on a different theme, and we hope that they will also serve as stepping stones to the IJBS 2016 triennial gathering.

John Bunyan in the Virtual Library System (Dissenting Academies Online)

Dr Williams’ s Centre for Dissenting Studies has just launched an augmented version of its Virtual Library System (part of Dissenting Academies Online), the union catalogue of holding and loans of dissenting academies, with the addition of Northern Congregational College. This is a unique opportunity to find out how Bunyan’s works were acquired and circulated (including translations) and is strongly recommended to Bunyan scholars. The IJBS would be keen to hear from members intending to use that tool in their work and analyse the results.

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IJBS Facebook Group

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“I am glad [...] that we can walk as Companions in this so pleasant a path.” (The Pilgrim’s Progress)

The International John Bunyan Society Facebook group provides a space for IJBS members and anyone else with a personal and/or professional interest in Bunyan to interact informally. The group provides an opportunity to share news, views, pictures, and web links relating to Bunyan and the IJBS. The group has recently been used to share photos from the IJBS conference, announcements of new publications, calls for papers, and blogs of interest to Bunyanists. All are welcome to join the company!

To join, click on the link below and then click on “Join Group” in the top right hand corner of the page. (You may have to wait for a short time before your request is approved by a group administrator.)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/361527619207/

A word from the President

Our Seventh Triennial Conference, directed by Nigel Smith, lasting a whole week on a Princeton campus buzzing with the sound of cicadas, and the occasional thunderstorm, was a huge success. We heard over thirty papers of great diversity and scope, including four inspiring plenaries delivered by N. H. Keeble (Stirling), Laura Knoppers (Penn. State), Paul C. H. Lim (Vanderbilt) and Cynthia Wall (Virginia). Senior scholars rubbed shoulders with a lively community of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers ; they showed us that we need have no fear for the future of Bunyan studies.

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Two of our officers retired at the business meeting on 13 August 2013 : our Secretary, Michael Davies, and our President, Nigel Smith. Both were warmly thanked for their work and dedication to the IJBS; the task for the new committee will be to rise to the challenge of meeting the standards they have set for us. You will find the membership of the 2013-2016 Executive Committee on the corresponding menu above.

After over a decade of outstanding service, the Alberta IJBS website has been replaced. We are greatly indebted to our Vice-President, David Gay, who devised and maintained it singlehandedly for so long. His diligence and impeccable record-keeping have ensured that the transition to the new website has been smooth and pain-free. This new website has been designed to improve communication between members and the general public. We hope you will find it pleasant and easy to use. Make sure you visit it on a regular basis and recommend it to others.

Finally, the IJBS’s Facebook page (click on the link on the right margin) is also thriving and offers a more informal environment where members can share news, pictures, and keep up with each other, so make sure you join us there as well !

Wishing you all a good year,

Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université, 29 September 2013

A new edition of the Bunyan Church Book, 1656-1710

By Michael Davies, University of Liverpool

The purpose of this edition (currently in preparation, and forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2015) is to provide literary scholars and historians, as well as students and general readers, with a scholarly yet accessible annotated edition of A Booke Containing a Record of the Acts of a Congregation of Christ in and about Bedford: the manuscript record of the Bedford congregation’s life during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Who the congregation’s members were, how they were received and disciplined, how they survived strife and harassment, and what defined their ecclesiological principles and practices are all revealed in fascinating detail by this remarkable document.  This edition will include the Church Book’s record of meetings from 1656, when they begin to be noted, to 1710, when an off-shoot congregation was formed out of the Bedford church and established – on good terms – at Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire.  During this period, John Bunyan famously served as the congregation’s preacher and pastor, witnessing significant crises and developments both within the Bedford church and for Restoration Nonconformity more generally.

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