John Bunyan was born between Harrowden and Elstow near Bedford (England) in 1628. Whatever education he had, he confesses, "I did soon lose the bit I learnt". When he was 19 he was freed from the army after giving three years service to the Parliamentary forces. He returned to his native Elstow and took up the same occupation as his father, a tinker, and soon married. His first child Mary was born blind and he devoted a special love and affection for her.
Following his new birth and conversion, Bunyan endured much spiritual conflict until in due time he found the peace he long had sought in the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1653 he joined himself to the congregation meeting at St John's, Bedford, which was under the pastoral care of John Gifford. Two years later Bunyan lost his wife and also his pastor through death. His second marriage was to Elizabeth in 1659
After the death of Gifford, Bunyan was chosen with nine others to preach the Word. Until the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 when Charles II ascended the throne, Bunyan enjoyed the freedom to preach where he would. But with government planning to enact the Act of Uniformity (designed to outlaw all non-conformist services), life became intolerable for Bunyan and other Puritan ministers.
Bunyan would not conform to the demands of the established church and in consequence became a marked man. On 12th March 1660, at Lower Samsell he was arrested, tried before magistrates and detained in Bedford jail for twelve years. It was whilst he was imprisoned that he was inspired to write The Pilgrim's Progress. In 1674 his beloved daughter Mary died.
When he was 44 Bunyan was released from jail by a dubiously contrived Declaration of Indulgence which suspended the execution of penal laws in regard to ecclesiastical matters. His freedom was short-lived. In 1675 he was jailed again when the king withdrew his declaration and with it Bunyan's preaching licence. Through the good offices of Dr John Owen, formerly chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and the greatest of puritan theologians, Bunyan gained his release in 1677.
Bunyan lived for another ten years after he had been set free. In that time as well as writing many books he travelled extensively in the counties of Hertford, Bedford, Buckingham, Cambridge and in London preaching the gospel. In 1688, after contracting a fever whilst returning on horseback from a trip to Reading, from which he never recovered, Bunyan's soul departed this life to be with his Lord in the Celestial City. His earthly remains are buried in Bunhill Fields, London.