Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Best Boreham Book for a Beginner

Somebody recently asked me, “If I was to read one Boreham book, which one would you recommend?” I said this was like trying to nominate your favorite child, a practice I wasn’t wanting to commence. As I thought about this question further I thought this was more about suggesting a good place to begin.

My suggestion to this person was to begin with F.W. Boreham’s autobiography, My Pilgrimage (which was subsequently published after his death with the title, Pathway of Roses). One cannot separate the person from his style. Although sentimental in places (typical of his age), My Pilgrimage has passion and through the pages Boreham connects powerfully with his readers.

This is a good book for pastors to read. As I wrote in an earlier posting Leslie Weatherhead described My Pilgrimage as, “the most inspiring ministerial autobiography I have ever read.” But any person would find the reading of this book to be interesting and rewarding.

When the first draft reached his old friend, J.J. North in New Zealand, North identified Boreham’s propensity for linking, which occurs in the opening paragraph of the book:

“Dr F. W. Boreham is publishing an autobiography. His first chapter tells of his birthday. Salvoes of cannon (by chance) were fired in every capital in Europe. It was not, however, because of his birth, but because in Europe the Franco-German War end coincided with an interesting friend's arrival on this planet.”[1]

Six months later New Zealand Baptist editor, Dr. North, added this article entitled, ‘Dr. Boreham's Honour’:

“We are delighted to hear that a fresh honour has befallen Dr. F. W. Boreham. It will be remembered that having completed somewhere about 25 volumes [it was 36], each with a considerable circulation both in U.S.A. and in Britain, he concluded (rashly it seems) that he had nothing else to say to his world. His last book, he said, had been published. But ideas continued to visit his receptive mind, and last year he broke his vow with a volume called "I Forgot to Say." This "paraleipomena" has been a great success, and the Religious Book Clubs of Britain have selected it as their book for January, and they have ordered a special edition of 5000.”

North continues:
“Dr Boreham is now producing his autobiography, and it is appearing in A.C. World every fortnight, and is to be published both in U.S.A. and in Britain. The last chapter we read described his unusual courtship. His lady, his "Stella," caught his eye when she was fifteen. He kissed her on the wharf when she was seventeen as he was sailing for New Zealand. She came out to this country when she was barely nineteen, and has been his "star" ever since, a woman greatly beloved by all who have known her, and (if we may say so) by this writer also, who was "best man" at the wedding in Kaiapoi in 1896. What a career the past editor of the New Zealand Baptist has had!”[2]

Six months later, when the book had come off the presses, North writes this commendation:

“The old and much-remembered editor of the New Zealand Baptist, Dr F. W. Boreham, has published the most dangerous sort of book, an autobiography. In no region of literature is failure more easy. The dangers imposed by natural egoism and triviality threaten shipwreck. This is the more probable in the case of a minister, whose whole life is immersed in the comparative obscurity of pulpit and pastoral work. Yet Boreham has made a success. He has developed an unstrained and lucid style, and he tells the simple details of his life with unfailing charm.”[3]

The major New Zealand bookshop chain printed this advertisement:

"MY PILGRIMAGE"—By F. W. Boreham. An Autobiography.
This is a choice book that every Baptist should read, full of memories that stretch back into Victorian England with its Spurgeon and its F. B. Meyer, and brings us across the Seven Seas to Australia and New Zealand, whose life he has done so much to mould. 7s 6d.
——Postage Extra——

And another advertisement later in the year:

"MY PILGRIMAGE." By F. W. Boreham.
An autobiography full of irrestible inspiration. 7/6.

It is a pity this good book is no longer available for such a price.

Geoff Pound

Image: Stella, “a woman greatly beloved by all who have known her.”

[1] J. J. North, New Zealand Baptist, August 1939, 234.
[2] J. J. North, New Zealand Baptist, February 1940, 37.
[3] J. J. North, New Zealand Baptist, August 1940, 247.
[4] New Zealand Baptist, July 1942, 206.
[5] New Zealand Baptist, December 1942, 325.