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27 November 2014

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    Bedfordshire Literary Map
    Bedfordshire Literary Map.
    Click on the location to find out its literary link

    Your chances of being a literary icon in Bedfordshire are greatly increased if your name is John!

    Unless of course you know better? Send us your Beds literary connections.


    Bucks Literary Map
    Herts Literary Map


    John Bunyan Museum

    John Hegley's World Wide Web

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    Bedford (John Bunyan)
    John Bunyan is one of the most celebrated 17th century writers and one of the world's most well-known Christian writers.
    His powerful allegory, 'Pilgrim's Progress', has been translated into 2,000 languages.

    Moot Hall in Elstow.
    Moot Hall in Elstow, near John Bunyan's birthplace

    John Bunyan was born in 1628 in Elstow, just to the south of Bedford.

    He was the son of a tinker and as a child he travelled the district helping his father. His family was poor but owned a cottage nearby, in Harrowden.

    After a short spell in the Parliamentary army he returned to Elstow in 1647, married and had four children.

    By 1655 Bunyan and his family were living in St Cuthbert's Street in Bedford and by 1659 he was recognised beyond the county border as a gifted preacher.

    John Bunyan Meeting House and Museum
    In 1652 Bunyan bought an orchard in Mill Street, Bedford and converted its barn into a meeting place. In the 19th century the present church was erected.

    John Bunyan's Meeting House.
    Bunyan Meeting House

    This church now has bronze doors, depicting various scenes from the 'Pilgrim's Progress', which were presented to the Bunyan Meeting House by the Duke of Bedford in 1876.

    There is now a Bunyan Museum adjoining this Meeting House, which presents a unique record of his life and works and contains many relics of Bunyan, including a large collection of translations of his most famous book.

    Museum opening hours

    April to end of October

    Bunyan was famously imprisoned for his beliefs and during his 12 years in Bedford County Gaol he wrote 'Pilgrim's Progress'. This is now a world classic and has been translated into over 2,000 languages.

    There appear to be two sites of the County Gaol. One is on the Bedford Bridge and the other is on the corner of the High Street and Silver Street. There is a plaque marking this spot.

    Bunyan Museum.
    John Bunyan Museum

    When the monarchy was restored in 1660, the government thought that forcing religious conformity on the nation would unify it. As such it forbade preaching to try and stop the growth of independent churches.

    Bunyan refused to obey, was arrested, and sentenced to remain in prison until he agreed to conform.

    During this time he also wrote his autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.

    Bunyan was set free in 1672 after Charles II issued a Declaration of Religious Indulgence but was jailed again the following year for four years when the Declaration was withdrawn.

    Pilgrim's Progress was finally published in 1677.

    Bunyan lived for another ten years, during which time he wrote another 40 books!


    The Adventures of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
    Tom Jones, a Foundling was published in 1749 and is Henry Fielding’s most renowned work.

    It is a very long and complex novel but one which is carefully organised and logical. On his many travels, Tom visits Inns in Dunstable and St Albans.


    Luton (John Hegley)
    John Hegley was born in 1953 in Newington Green, and moved to Luton at an early age.

    John Hegley.
    Luton's John Hegley

    After leaving school he worked as a bus conductor in Bristol and social security clerk, until he went to University where he studied Literature and Sociology.

    He chose to study at Bradford University after going to watch Luton Town play in the city.

    John originally started out as a musician, before turning to poetry and performance. His first mainstream book, Glad To Wear Glasses was published in 1990.

    This was followed by Beyond Our Kennel, Can I Come Down Now Dad?, Five Sugars Please, These Were Your Father's, Love Cuts and Dog.

    His books are a mixture of verse, poetry and prose, along with his own illustrations, that cover a multitude of themes with wry observations on existence.

    He recently said during a BBC Web chat that his biggest success was the poem about witches that was published in the Luton Central Library Magazine when he was 10.

    In 2000, John received an honorary Arts Doctorate from Luton University and is also the patron of their Creative Writing degree.

    We want to make these literary maps as comprehensive as possible.

    If you know of any other literary associations, please let us know. We will add them in and of course tell everybody who told us!

    Your comments

    Deirdre Power, Nebraska USA Thursday, 03-Feb-2005 17:04:40 GMT
    Brian Clemens - screenwriter lives in Ampthill, Beds. He's most famous for his prolific writing for The Avengers, but has written many countless screenplays and is a recipient of the Edgar Allen Poe Award. Please add him to the list. An old friend.

    Nichole Brumwell, Saturday, 05-Feb-2005 08:41:48 GMT
    Mary Norton, author of "The Borrowers" series lived in Leighton Buzzard. The house, situated at the bottom of the High Street, is now part of Leighton Middle School and was the setting for her series of books.

    Jeremy Clark, Shefford Thursday, 08-Jan-2004 16:05:11 GMT
    I'm surprised that Robert Bloomfield does not appear. He was a resident of Shefford, Beds for 11 years, his most famous work being "Farmers Boy".
    Comment on this story




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