Over the past century, dozens of biographies have been written about the Prince of Preachers. So if you’re interested in learning more about Charles Spurgeon but don’t know where to begin, here are twelve 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 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 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. The pilgrimage often takes fascinating detours into the unexplored terrains of his theology, personal relationships, and 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 primary controversies: the Media Controversy of the 1850s, the Baptismal Regeneration Controversy of 1864, and the Downgrade Controversy of 1887-1891.
5. Ernest W. 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 once said, “The modern men would be rich if they possessed even the crumbs that fall from the table of the Puritans.”
Fifteen years in the making, this 700-page biography digs into the theological contours of Spurgeon’s life and packs enough academic punch to satisfy even the most rigorous of scholars. The uniqueness of Nettles’s work is found in his use of Spurgeon’s monthly magazine, The Sword and Trowel. Nettles excavates this untapped resource to show how all theology is applicable to the local church.
7. Craig Skinner, Spurgeon & Son: The Forgotten Story of Thomas Spurgeon and His Famous Father, Charles Haddon Spurgeon
In this biography of Thomas Spurgeon (1856-1917), Skinner also provides new perspectives of Charles – that of a father and family man. This gap-filling work contains original research and chronicles Thomas’s travels with his dad 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 street addresses, this pocket-sized guidebook is a must-read for anyone taking a pilgrimage to Spurgeon’s haunts. But Clive’s work punches well above its weight, and the devout Spurgeonite should feel confident placing this unassuming little book on the shelf beside the larger biographical tomes.
9. Helmut Thielicke, Encounter With Spurgeon
Written by the prolific 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 theology hardly aligns with Spurgeon’s, and yet this 45-page encounter reveals the wide-reaching, winsome impact a formally uneducated Victorian preacher exerted throughout Europe. As Thielicke reminds the reader, “This bush from old London still burns and shows no signs of being consumed.”
10. C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography. Compiled from His Diary, Letters, and Records, by His Wife, and His Private Secretary
No one knows Spurgeon better than, well, Spurgeon himself. Written by Charles and completed by his wife and secretary, this four-volume autobiography is the best account 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. The search for this treasure is always worth the struggle.
11. Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey, Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom
Written by Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey, pastor and worship leader of Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, this hot-off-the-press Spurgeon biography uncovers one of the most interesting aspects of the pastor's life – his friendship with Virginian slave, Thomas L. Johnson. A story of grace, redemption, abolition, and remarkable hospitality, this page-turning narrative will make you want to buy several copies for your friends.
12. Christian George, The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons between 1851 and 1854
In 1857, Charles Spurgeon promised his readers that he would publish his earliest sermons. For almost 160 years, these sermons were lost to history. Beginning with this inaugural volume, these rediscovered sermons can finally be read, studied, and enjoyed by the millions around the world who admire Spurgeon’s spiritual insights and literary grace.
This 12-volume set includes full-color facsimiles of Spurgeon’s original handwriting, transcriptions of his outlines and sermons, biographical introductions, and editorial commentary that further illuminate Spurgeon’s work. Taken together, The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon will add approximately 10 percent more material to Spurgeon’s total body of literature, making it a must-have for pastors and scholars as well as the multitude of Spurgeon enthusiasts around the world.
Volume 1 contains a substantial biographical introduction to Spurgeon’s life and times, seventy-eight sermons he preached itinerantly and as pastor of Waterbeach Chapel, and an analysis of these sermons.
Here's the collector's edition. Wrapped in custom marbled paper and leather, the collector's edition looks like Spurgeon's original notebook. It contains gilded edges, a marbled slipcase, and dozens of photographs not found in the standard edition.
A Final Word
Charles Spurgeon's entire life orbited around one burning desire: to lift up Jesus Christ. No person spent more time and energy loving London's poor, feeding her hungry, clothing her naked, and protecting her children than the pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Spurgeon loved London, not only with his words but with his wallet.
“When our lives are to be written at last, God grant that they record not only our saying, but also our doings.”
May our biographies be as worth reading as Spurgeon's. May you and I live each day to the glory of God so the future will be encouraged, uplifted, and edified to lift up Jesus Christ. Because you never know how God will use your faithfulness today to change the church tomorrow.