John Bunyan was born in the parish of Elston, two miles from Bedford, England. His father, like himself, was a poor tinker, but he managed to send John to school for a short time. Later, John served for two years in the Parliamentarian army during the civil war against Charles I.
In 1660 Bunyan was put in the Bedford jail for twelve years for preaching without a license. While in prison he supported his family by making shoelaces. It was in prison that he wrote Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (first published in 1666), an autobiographical sketch of his conversion, call to ministry, and subsequent imprisonment. After his release in 1672, Bunyan was appointed pastor of the Baptist church in Bedford but was again sent to prison (on the same charge) for six months. It was then that he wrote his most famous work, The Pilgrim's Progress, published in 1678. This book is a monumental classic, second only to the Bible in the number of copies sold since its first printing. Like the Apostle Paul, Bunyan knew both the pain and the glory of being an instrument in the hands of God.