Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Further Boreham Book in Pipeline

Reference was made recently to the new book that was due to be printed last Friday. It is entitled, The Chalice of Life and it is described in the posting at this link.

A larger manuscript is being finalized with the title, A Packet of Surprises: The Best Essays and Sermons of F W Boreham.

Publishing progress is being regularly reported at Mike Dalton’s F W Boreham Publishing News site with news (here is the latest at the time of writing) on how you might be able to order a first edition. Mike does so much of the unseen detail in getting the text looking superb and the challenges of negotiating with the printers

To get you excited, I have posted the beautifully symbolic cover on this page, created again by our wonderful designer, Laura Zugzda.

I thought you also might like a preview so I am posting here the preface to the Packet of Surprises:


Selecting the Best
Choosing the best essays of F W Boreham is as excruciating as selecting some children to get the honors and telling the others that they did not make the grade. As mentioned in the preface to The Best Stories of F W Boreham the selection is subjective. But there is some rhyme and reason to the choices. Some were voted in by current Boreham readers so they appear by popular demand. Others are clearly Boreham’s choice or were popular in his day. His biographer, T Howard Crago, reported that ‘The Other Side of the Hill’ (a variation of which was entitled ‘The Sunny Side of the Ranges’, was an address delivered 80 times and ‘The House that Jack Built’ was given 140 times to churches that requested Dr Boreham to give this lecture to their community as a fund raiser.[1]

In compiling this selection an effort has been made to include essays on a range of themes, those which illustrate different homiletical methods and others that are drawn from different periods in Boreham’s career. The sermons, ‘Mind Your Own Business’, ‘He Made as Though’ and ‘A Prophet’s Pilgrimage’ represent extensive reflections on Biblical stories. The chapters entitled, ‘Dominoes’, ‘Please Shut the Gate!’ and ‘I.O.U.’ are fine examples of the way F W Boreham told parables by taking ordinary, everyday objects or expressions and skillfully helped his hearers to discover a deeper truth. The messages on the favorite texts of Catherine Booth, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Abraham Lincoln are representative of the 100+ addresses in the most popular Boreham sermon series that are contained in the five books on the theme, ‘Texts that Made History’. ‘The Squirrel’s Dream’ and ‘Waiting for the Tide’ offer glimpses into the way F W Boreham used paintings to illustrate his themes.

The sermon ‘The Whisper of God’ may at face value have not made the cut in Boreham’s best but it is included because it is the best of his earliest sermons and it illustrates how his preaching changed in style, structure and length. His contemporary, J J North, judged Boreham’s early literary ventures to be “long-worded” because “the terse Boreham had not arrived.”[2] Amid the many admiring reviews, it was said of Boreham’s first volume of sermons, The Whisper of God, that “if illustrations and incidents did not jostle so thickly on the pages and the poetical quotations were remorselessly reduced the sermons would gain much in value.”[3] The Best Essays of F W Boreham demonstrates the way that Boreham worked hard to remodel his writing and preaching through such things as the removal of wordy clutter for it is clear to see the emergence of a simple and flowing style.

Already the terms ‘essay’, ‘sermon’, ‘lecture’ and ‘address’ have been used in this introduction. Some of the chapters in his books are clearly one genre or another but F W Boreham was, as Lindsay Newnham described, the great ‘recycler’ who suited his style to his audience and tweaked his material to fit the allotted time or word limits.[4]

In a review of the book A Bunch of Everlastings, Dr. James Hastings, editor of the famous Dictionary of the Bible, asked a question that many readers have asked: “Is Mr. Boreham able to preach such sermons as these, exactly as they are printed here? Their interest is undoubted and intense. For Mr. Boreham is an artist. Every sermon is constructed. Every thought is in its place, and appropriately expressed. And there are no marks left in the constructing. To the literary student, as to the average reader of sermons, every sermon is literature.” Howard Crago, (whose text was read by F W Boreham) answered, ‘The fact was, of course, that each of these sermons was preached from memory in almost the exact words in which it was printed.’”[5]

Truth through Personality
If the content of these sermons and lectures were word for word the same as what we read in this volume they do not convey fully the total impact of the preaching event—the pausing, the modulation of his voice, the twinkle in the eye and the response of his hearers. Fortunately Howard Crago has recorded this colourful insight into how one of F W Boreham’s addresses was received:

“As time went on and ‘The House That Jack Built’ grew in popularity, the lecturer developed it and perfected its delivery until the whole thing flowed on for more than an hour of fascinating elocution and magnificent eloquence. He himself revelled in reciting it, and the audience enjoyed it to the full while being unconsciously influenced by its gentle suggestiveness.”

“A typical audience-reaction was that of the Rev. C. Bernard Cockett, M.A., who, after hearing the lecture in a Surrey Hills church said, ‘It is not to be wondered at that individuals who appreciate the words of an author are interested in him as a man, lecturer and minister. Therefore, when the Rev. F. W. Boreham's presence was heralded in a Melbourne suburb many people asked, `What is he like?' `Can he speak and preach as well as write?' `Has he personality and originality in the pulpit as well as in the study?' Boreham came-spoke-and conquered! He spoke for an hour; but the minutes passed by on shimmering wings. He speaks quite as well as he writes—the voice is strong and sweet; ringing, yet winning, and the word lives in the message. ‘The House That Jack Built’ was a brilliant drama, staged and performed by the author. And his control of the audience! A happy and original introduction; apposite stories from history, science, and romance, related with telling effect; soft touches on the varying notes of the human soul, making it tremble with childlike laughter, and then a sudden chord of richer music with concentrated and arresting power—while the listener perceives God through smiles.’”

“Moving a vote of thanks at Wangaratta [Victoria], a local farmer expressed a good deal when he said, ‘I enjoyed the lecture because I could see that Mr. Boreham was enjoying it so much himself.’”[6]

Inflaming Passion
These essays and sermons have been brought together not for literary inspection and homiletical interest but so they might speak powerfully to readers in this contemporary age. F W Boreham believed in the importance of heroes, he devoted an entire chapter of his autobiography to two of his preaching models [7] and he encouraged preachers to study evangelistic models to “inflame your devotion.”[8]

But Boreham sounded a warning about copying the style of someone else. Writing on the topic, ‘A troop of apes’, he drew analogies from nature (lyre bird, jays, ostriches and apes) to state that, “life abounds in mimicry” and if our tendency to imitation is so strong and impossible to eradicate, then human beings must select “worthy models.”[9]

Be Yourself
The great hope for this new book is that it might stimulate among its readers one of the major themes of F W Boreham—that each person, with their God-given gifts might develop their unique style:

“He sees as nobody else sees. He must therefore paint or preach or pray or write as nobody else does. He must be himself: must see with his own eyes and utter that vision in the terms of his own personality.”[10]

Dr. Geoff Pound.

Image: Front Cover of A Packet of Surprises: The Best Essays and Sermons of F W Boreham.

[1] T Howard Crago, The Story of F W Boreham (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1961), 172-174.
[2] J J North, New Zealand Baptist, April 1943.
[3] Review of Whisper of God, (n.p., n.d.). This review appears in a cutting that Boreham kept in his own copy of his book Whisper of God.
[4] Lindsay L Newnham, ‘Recycling by Dr F W Boreham’, Our yesterdays 5 (Melbourne: Victorian Baptist Historical Society, 1997), 78.
[5] Crago, The Story of F W Boreham, 179.
[6] Crago, The Story of F W Boreham, 172-173.
[7] F W Boreham, My pilgrimage (London: The Epworth Press, 1940), 98-103.
[8] F W Boreham, I forgot to say, 42.
[9] F W Boreham, Mercury, 8 October 1955.
[10] Boreham, Mercury, 9 September 1950.

Boreham, Boreham Everywhere

The Kibitzer writes about how he has recently been hearing the name ‘Boreham’ everywhere.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: The Armadale Baptist Church in Melbourne, Australia that Boreham pastored in the 1920s. How did he become so well know that even people like The Kibitzer are surprised? FWB became known internationally through his books.

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Boreham Book: The Chalice of Life

Charge Your Glasses
According to Michael Dalton, my publishing partner, our new F W Boreham book, The Chalice of Life, is scheduled for printing today—Friday 13 June 2008.

Mike has information on his F W Boreham Publishing News site about how you may get a copy quickly and ensure you can read it and review it before it runs off the shelves.

One of the reasons why this book will be popular is that while it has some essays that have been previously published there are some pages that have never have published before.

Ordering and Purchasing
Mike says: “Don't miss these two new books. If you can't wait to order Chalice, you can send a PayPal payment of $7.00 for each book ordered and $3.50 for shipping and handling (add $1.00 for each additional book shipped) to You can also send a check to Mike Dalton, 2163 Fern Street, Eureka, CA 95503. Checks should be made out to Mike Dalton.”

“This is just if you want to preorder. The first books should be available for shipping towards the end of the month. Credit card orders will have to wait until I have the book listed on Amazon and AbeBooks. I won't do that until I have them in my possession.

To give you a sip and a taster I have posted the foreword that I have written for this book.

This book is a collection of five addresses that F W Boreham delivered on some major stages of life and this quintet is accompanied by two further essays in which the author develops the theme of life’s milestones.

Most of these essays were written soon after Boreham attained the particular milestone even though for his later lecture series he gave them a polish and wrote a new one for a stage he had not written about earlier.

It is good to reflect on Frank Boreham’s life at the time he reached each age as he draws much upon his own experience. At the age of thirty (1901) F W Boreham was married with one daughter, he was pastor of the Mosgiel Baptist church in New Zealand, contributor to the Taieri Advocate and the Otago Daily Times, editor of the New Zealand Baptist, and President of the Baptist Union. At the age of forty (1911) he had two more daughters, was pastor of the Hobart Baptist Tabernacle, he had authored several books and he was soon to begin his marathon commitment with the Hobart Mercury. At the age of fifty (1921) Boreham was pastor of the Armadale Baptist church in Melbourne, he had fathered a boy and another daughter in this last decade and his publishing ministry was in top gear. At the age of sixty (1931) F W Boreham was officially retired from pastoral ministry and was serving as a minister-at-large, across the denominations of the church and undertaking preaching and teaching tours overseas. At the age of seventy (1941), Dr Boreham had published his autobiography, in which he signaled that he had entered into the final stage of life. This was not entirely accurate as he churned out several more books and his weekly ministry at Scot’s Church was blossoming.

It is interesting to note that F W Boreham did not have an article on Life at Twenty, especially as he was fond of quoting Southey who said, “However long a person’s life, the first twenty years represent by far the biggest half of it.”[1] It is also significant that Boreham did not appear to write an article on Life at Eighty, even though he was still publishing books and preaching weekly.

F W Boreham remarks in one of these addresses that the one thing that each of these milestones has is life. F W Boreham was a self-confessed “lover of life.”[2] This theme pulsates through this book and in all his writing and preaching. In an essay on the coming of Spring Boreham reflects on the source of his love for life when saying, “I have learned that my quenchless longing for life is, after all, all unconsciously, a secret, unutterable yearning after God; for how can you conceive of life apart from Him?[3]

Throughout the pages of this volume one feels the sheer exuberance that Boreham had for life. He is possessed with a sense of wonder about the newness of each day:

“Half the fun of waking up in the morning is the feeling that you have come upon a day that the world has never seen before, a day that is certain to do things that no other day has ever done. Half the pleasure of welcoming a new-born baby is the absolute certainty that here you have a packet of amazing surprises....Here is novelty, originality, an infinity of bewildering possibility.[4]

It is Frank Boreham’s love of life that motivates his curiosity and his ministry to people:

“I have so thoroughly relished the little bit of life that was doled out to me that I find myself clamoring for all the lives that I can see....the same hunger underlies my passion for biography and even my fondness for the Bible. …Life has been so sweet to me that I like to mark the relish with which others tell their enjoyment of it.[5]

F W Boreham was very attentive to anniversaries and he kept a ‘birthday book’ or Personal Almanac in which he recorded special dates. He noted down each year the arrival of the first swallow[6] and the exact day that the elms around his house, “attired themselves in their new spring dresses.”[7] Many of his editorials commenced with reference to the birth or death of his subject. Two of his books contain the word ‘milestone’ in the title. His autobiography is a comprehensive record of the important dates of his life and family and it describes the way he remembered and celebrated the key events of his ministry.

The Chalice of Life is not so much about the exact ages as the general stages of life—their pitfalls and their possibilities. What then was Boreham’s favorite stage in life? This question is like asking him to decide which of his children was his favorite. Concerning his three churches he spoke with equal warmth and affection, even though he highlighted their different qualities. In a similar fashion and at the risk of being told that “all his swans were geese” Boreham writes with high commendation of each age and stage of life. What is happening is akin to the way he explained his growing love for Australia, “Life has a wonderful way of coaxing us into a frame of mind in which we not only become reconciled to our lot: we actually fall in love with it.”[8]

In the final two essays of this book, ‘So It’s Your Birthday!’ and ‘Life’s Landmarks’, we see the way F W Boreham is not merely registering dates in a diary or counting commemorations on a calendar. His approach is to greet each day with expectancy and to make the momentous decisions with which life confronts us. F W Boreham claimed that the greatest day of a person’s life was not their birthday, their wedding anniversary or the date of their death but, “The greatest day in a man's life is the day on which he finds himself overwhelmed and bowed to earth by a sense of the greatness of God.”[9]

Enjoy this book and most importantly, drink deeply from “the chalice of life.”[10]

Dr. Geoff Pound.

Image: Front cover of The Chalice of Life, so beautifully created by Laura Zugzda.

P.S. F W Boreham’s son, Frank, told me that his wife Betty did most of the proof reading of his books. The ship would dock in Melbourne, the proofs would be delivered the next day and FWB and Betty would read and make the corrections before the ship left in a couple of days to return to England. When the first copy of each new book appeared FWB would take it warmly, kiss it and pass it to other members of the family for them to do the same. Producing Boreham books was a concern and a delight of the whole Boreham family.

[1] F W Boreham, My Pilgrimage (London: The Epworth Press, 1940), 91.
[2] F W Boreham, The Golden Milestone (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1915), 9
[3] F W Boreham, The Three Half-Moons (London: The Epworth Press, 1929), 125.
[4] F W Boreham, Faces in the Fire (London: The Epworth Press, 1916), 14.
[5] F W Boreham, On the Other Side of the Hill (London: The Epworth Press, 1917), 173.
[6] Boreham, The Golden Milestone, 34.
[7] F W Boreham, The Passing of John Broadbanks (London: The Epworth Press, 1936), 261.
[8] Boreham, My Pilgrimage, 137.
[9] F W Boreham, A Witch’s Brewing (London: The Epworth Press, 1932), 155.
[10] F W Boreham, A Bunch of Everlastings (London: The Epworth Press, 1920), 88.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Boreham on Nature

All the untamed and untutored tribes of Central Africa and of the South Seas have dwelt with Nature for ages. And what has she taught them? They sit round their horrible camp-fires and tear like beasts at human flesh, whilst all the sublimities and transcendencies of Nature spread themselves out on every hand. Nor need we journey to Africa or the coral islands. Facts are stubborn things; and the stern facts of life, as reflected by our police-courts, demonstrate the folly of idealizing the bush. Some of our most revolting criminal cases come from those districts in the Never-Never Country where every prospect pleases, where the landscape is a riot of glorious forestry, and where the earth is a gay profusion of wild flowers. Yet those cases reveal a sordidness, an animalism, and a brutality that have shocked the very dwellers in the slums. Now why these terrible murder cases? Does Nature never say to her children, 'Thou shalt not steal ‘Thou shalt not kill I'? Does Nature give no code of morals to the children of Nature? 'Alas!' cries Nature, as she hangs her head, 'it is not in me! It is not in me!'

Yes, the dregs of life are not always found in city slums. The bush may become bestial as well as beatific. Let no one misunderstand me. I am not contending that the country is worse than the town. I am instituting no comparison. I am simply saying that there is nothing in the civilization of our cities that can save us apart from the gospel, and that there is nothing in the beauty of the bush that can save us apart from the gospel. Jesus is the only hope of country and of town. And the transcendent glory of the churches is that they exist to preach HIM.

F W Boreham, The Modesty of the Bush, The Golden Milestone, (London: Charles Kelley, 1915), 128-130.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Boreham on the Prophetic Use of Names

It is very odd, the way in which history and prophecy meet and mingle in the naming of the baby.

A friend of mine has just named his child after John Wesley. He has clearly done so in the fond hope that the august virtues of the great Methodist may be duplicated and revived in a generation that is coming. It is an ingenious device for transferring the moral excellences of the remote past to the dim and distant regions of an unborn future. The phenomenon sometimes becomes positively pathetic.

I remember reading, in the stirring annals of the Melanesian Mission, of a native boy whom Bishop John Selwyn had in training at Norfolk Island. He had been brought from one of the most barbarous of the South Sea peoples, and did not promise particularly well. One day Bishop Selwyn had occasion to rebuke him for his stubborn and refractory behaviour. The boy instantly flew into a passion and struck the Bishop a cruel blow in the face. It was an unheard-of incident, and all who saw it stood aghast. The Bishop said nothing, but turned and walked quietly away. The conduct of the lad continued to be most recalcitrant, and he was at last returned to his own island as incorrigible. There he soon relapsed into all the debasements of a savage and cannibal people.

Many years afterwards a missionary on that island was summoned post-haste to visit a sick man. It proved to be Dr. Selwyn's old student. He was dying, and desired Christian baptism. The missionary asked him by what name he would like to be known. “Call me John Selwyn,” the dying man replied, “because he caught me what Christ was like that day when I struck him.”

F W Boreham, ‘Naming the Baby’, Mushrooms on the Moor (London: Charles H Kelly, 1915), 253-254.

Image: “Call me John Selwyn.”

Further: F W Boreham wrote a biography on Bishop John Selwyn.