About the BookThe Pilgrim’s Progress, a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan, is widely regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature. It has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never gone out of print.
Bunyan began writing this work while he was serving his term (1660-1672) in the Bedfordshire county prison for violations of the Conventicle Act, which prohibited the holding of religious services outside the auspices of the established Church of England. The book was published in 1678 and is divided into two parts, each reading as a continuous narrative with no divisions into chapters. The first part was completed in 1677 and entered into the Stationers’ Register on 22 December 1677. It was licensed and entered in the “Term Catalogue” on 18 February 1678, which is taken as the date of first publication. After the first edition of the first part in 1678, an expanded edition with additions by Bunyan appeared in 1679. The second part appeared in 1684. There were eleven editions of the first part during Bunyan’s lifetime, published in successive years from 1678 to 1685 and in 1688. There were two editions of the second part, published in 1684 and 1686.
The Pilgrim's Progress got immediate success and it became one of the most published books in the English language. By 1692, four years after Bunyan’s death, publisher Charles Doe estimated that 1,00,000 copies had been printed in England, as well as editions “in France, Holland, New England and Welch”. By 1938, 250 years after Bunyan’s death, more than 1,300 editions of the book had been printed. About the Author/sJohn Bunyan (1628-1688) was an English writer and Baptist preacher best remembered for his Christian allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress. He also wrote about 60 other titles, many of them expanded sermons.
John Bunyan was born in 1628 in the parish of Elstow, Bedford. After receiving some schooling, he joined the Parliamentary army at the age of 16, during the first stage of the English Civil War. After three years, he returned to Elstow and took up the trade of tinker. He became interested in religion after his marriage, and attended first the parish church and then joined the Bedford Meeting, a non-conformist group in Bedford, and became a preacher. After the restoration of the monarch, the freedom of non-conformists was curtailed, and Bunyan was arrested. He spent the next 12 years in jail as he refused to give up preaching.
During this time, he wrote a spiritual autobiography entitled, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. He also began work on his most famous book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, which was not published until some years after his release.
Bunyan is best remembered for The Pilgrim’s Progress, a book which gained immediate popularity. His unpolished style, which fell out of favour during the 18th century again became popular with Romanticism, when poet Robert Southey wrote Bunyan’s appreciative biography in 1830. His reputation was further enhanced by the evangelical revival and he became a favourite author of the Victorians. The tercentenary of Bunyan’s birth, celebrated in 1928, elicited praise from his former adversary, the Church of England. Bunyan’s influence can be seen in the works of well-known writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott and George Bernard Shaw.