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Reformed Literature
A Presbyterian Internet Journal

Bishop JC Ryle - Prince of Tract Writers

Alan Munden

Day One Publications

The "travel with" series of guides are a relatively new series of books from Day One publications. They are all in a pocket book shape and form a new and interesting take on biography for a variety of Reformed characters. If you have not come across the series before then you are in for a bit of a treat. It would be easy to assume on first glance that they are all pictures and no real biographical substance. However, this would be an incorrect assessment. As well as the visual treat of all the images, the authors of each of the books often unearth some aspects the person life that makes the reading very satisfying.

It should also be said, in these more general remarks on the series, that the production quality of the books and images is high. The series includes others like Lloyd-Jones, William Booth, CH Spurgeon, Bunyan, Grimshaw, Calvin and Tyndale. I am sure there will be one in the series to please everyone. It is a lovely series and Day One should be very proud of the work that they have done on them.

The book starts with the places associated with the Ryle banking family. The majority of these are around Macclesfield, some of which I knew and others I had driven past many times and been oblivious to any connection. The chapter on his time at Oxford includes some discussion of the Tractarian movement. In the third chapter we are introduced to Exbury which was where he was first a curate - it includes some reflections on his learning to preach that I feel ought to resonate in some contemporary circles. We are then introduced to the Tollemache family, who also have a family seat nearby but were also based in the Suffolk parish of Helmingham. The pages on Stradbrooke include some photography by Henrietta Ryle from the 1860s. I am a little surprised that there are not more images of the inside of Stradbrooke which Ryle helped to renovate and is covered in gospel texts (perhaps the only set of images that could be argued to be missing - other than a small pair on page77 which don't really do justice to the building). The book goes on to explain his elevation to the Bishop of Liverpool in the dying moments of a Disraeli government. Although, it is only 120 pages in length it forms a complete tour of the life of one of England's best bishops.

Owing to the nature, pictures and quality of the books they make useful gifts for both Christian and non-Christian friends.