John Bunyan, Roger Pooley
John Bunyan (1628-88) was born in Elstow, a village near Bedford. He went to school in the village and became a travelling brazier or tinker, like his father. He married in 1649 and had four children, though the name of his first wife is unknown. As part of her dowry she brought two popular books of devotion; and these, along with a series of experiences, triggered a complex conversion experience, not fully resolved until 1653, when Bunyan joined a separatist congregation in Bedford.
Soon Bunyan began preaching and engaging in controversy with other religious groups. He wrote his first book, Some Gospel Truths Opened in 1656. Soon after the Restoration he was arrested for unlicensed preaching in the village of Lower Samsell and, because he refused to stop preaching, remained in prison in Bedford for twelve years.
In 1678 he published the first part of The Pilgrim's Progress. It became an immediate bestseller, running through twelve editions and being translated into Dutch, French and Welsh during Bunyan's lifetime; since then it has been translated into more than two hundred languages. Bunyan died in 1688.