So you’re interested in learning more about Charles Spurgeon but don’t know where to begin. Here are ten must-read biographies to get you started:
1. Peter Morden, C. H. Spurgeon: The People’s Preacher
Written by a leading British scholar, this introduction is easy to read and contains helpful illustrations. The great value of Morden’s work lies in his generous use of the archives of Spurgeon’s College in London.
For a quick yet profound read, this trustworthy overview certainly satisfies.
2. Lewis Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers
Don’t let the thickness of this 895-page biography dissuade you from reading it. Considered definitive by many, Drummond’s work contains as much depth as breadth and leads the reader through the episodes of Spurgeon’s life by depicting him as Christian, the main character in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.
This pilgrimage takes fascinating detours into the unexplored terrains of Spurgeon’s theology, personal relationships, and explosive controversies.
3. Arnold Dallimore, Spurgeon: A New Biography
Only 252 pages, this bite-size biography is a go-to for pastors and professors seeking to recommend a succinct, well-written narrative of Spurgeon’s life.
Dallimore casts Spurgeon against the backdrop of nineteenth-century evangelicalism and presents his strengths as well as his weaknesses.
4. Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon
Written from the perspective of a British pastor, this 1966 biography explores Spurgeon’s life and spirituality through the lens of three controversies: the Media Controversy of the 1850s, the Baptismal Regeneration Controversy of 1864, and the Downgrade Controversy of 1887-1891.
5. Ernest Bacon, Spurgeon: Heir of the Puritans
In this well-researched biography, Bacon unpacks an important facet of Spurgeon’s ministry – his love of Puritan literature. Assisted by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Bacon reveals Spurgeon’s indebtedness to Puritans like Thomas Brooks, John Bunyan, Stephen Charnock, Richard Sibbes, and others. If you want to know the origins of Spurgeon’s theology, you will appreciate this 184-page work.
As Spurgeon said, “The modern men would be rich if they possessed even the crumbs that fall from the table of the Puritans (p. 120, see also MTP 18:322).
Fifteen years in the making, this 700-page biography digs deeply into the theological depths of Spurgeon’s life. This tome packs enough academic punch to satisfy even the most rigorous of scholars.
Its uniqueness is found in Nettles’s use of Spurgeon’s monthly magazine, The Sword and Trowel, as a primary lens into his life. This untapped resource is well harnessed and leads the reader to see how all theology is applicable to the local church.
In this biography of Thomas Spurgeon (1856-1917), Skinner also provides new perspectives on Charles – that of a father and family man. This gap-filling work contains original research and chronicles Thomas’s travels through Europe, his pastorate in New Zealand, and also the events of his later life.
Of particular interest is the generous offering of illustrations, many of which were not previously published.
8. Clive Anderson, Travel with C. H. Spurgeon: In the Footsteps of the “Prince of Preachers”
Packed with illustrated maps, quick references, traveling tips, and helpful street addresses, this pocket-sized guidebook is a must-read for anyone taking a pilgrimage to Spurgeon’s haunts. But Anderson punches well above his weight and gives the reader more than he had to.
The devout Spurgeonite should feel confident placing this unassuming book on the shelf next to the heavyweight biographies.
9. Helmut Thielicke, Encounter with Spurgeon
Written by German scholar Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986), this biography (originally titled Vom Geistlichen Reden: Begegnung Mit Spurgeon) is perhaps the most surprising of them all. Thielicke’s theology hardly aligns with that of Spurgeon and yet this 45-page encounter reveals the wide-reaching, winsome impact that a formally uneducated Victorian preacher exerted throughout Europe.
“This bush from old London still burns and shows no signs of being consumed” (p. 4).
No one knew Spurgeon better than, well . . . Spurgeon himself. Written by Charles and completed after this death by his wife and secretary, this four-volume autobiography is the best account of the life and ministry of the Prince of Preachers. You can buy the two-volume edition by Banner of Truth but the original, unabridged edition often appears on eBay and in second-hand bookstores.
Don’t give up hunting for this treasure – the search will be worth the struggle.