Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Boreham and His Literary Models Part 11: John Bunyan

This posting is part of a series on F W Boreham and the authors who influenced his literary style. This article is about the influence of the author, John Bunyan (1628-1688)[1]:

Desert Literature?
Was it the stories of his mother, the urging of Mark Rutherford, who “read Bunyan assiduously throughout his life”[2] or Macaulay’s commendation to all literary aspirants of The pilgrim’s progress “as the supreme and incomparable pattern”[3] of English style that led Boreham to say, “If I was shipwrecked on a desert island, the one book, in addition to the Bible, will certainly be John Bunyan, although I could not be sure whether it would be The pilgrim’s progress or Grace abounding?”[4]

A Spiritual Master
Boreham claimed Bunyan as being “among his spiritual masters”[5] and testified to Bunyan’s influence on his writing when he said, “In the writings of those who have modelled themselves on his perfect style, he lives a thousand lives, quite anonymously, but with tremendous effect.”[6]

Effortless Simplicity
What impressed Boreham was Bunyan’s simple style that appeared to arise effortlessly from the person himself: “The charm of Bunyan is that he is always himself .… There is nowhere anything grandiloquent, efflorescent or highfalutin, about a word that he says. He never tried to write; he just wrote. The simplicity of his soul found perfect and natural articulation in the crystalline clarity of his own native speech”.[7]

Geoff Pound

Image: John Bunyan

[1] Further information on the Bedfordshire author can be found in, DNB eds. Leslie Stephen & Sidney Lee, vol. 3 (London: Oxford University Press, 1937), 275-284.
[2] Beresford, ‘Mark Rutherford and hero-worship’, 270.
[3] Boreham, Mercury, 31 August 1946.
[4] Boreham, When the swans fly high, 156.
[5] Boreham, A witch’s brewing, 155.
[6] Boreham, Mercury, 31 August 1946.
[7] Boreham, Mercury, 31 August 1946.