In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, thousands of ordinary women and men experienced evangelical conversion and turned to a certain form of spiritual autobiography to make sense of their lives. This book traces the rise and progress of conversion narrative as a unique form of spiritual autobiography in early modern England. After outlining the emergence of the genre in the seventeenth century and the revival of the form in the journals of the leaders of the Evangelical Revival, the central chapters of the book examine extensive archival sources to show the subtly different forms of narrative identity that appeared among Wesleyan Methodists, Moravians, Anglicans, Baptists, and others. Attentive to the unique voices of pastors and laypeople, women and men, Western and non-Western peoples, the book establishes the cultural conditions under which the genre proliferated.
D. Bruce Hindmarsh is James M. Houston Associate Professor of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver.