If you’re interested in reading about a devoted and influential Christian who was not a pastor or missionary, then perhaps you should read this biography of Frances Ridley Havergal. She was a poet, hymnist, and devotional writer whose diverse works became widely known and loved throughout much of the Church. But even in her personal life, she cultivated a powerful love for God which led her to work constantly for the good of the Church and the salvation of the lost.
This biography of her life is written by Pamela Bugden. Bugden has done much work on the upcoming Complete Works of Frances Ridley Havergal, and so she was well-suited to write this biography. She draws on a variety of sources, including the personal letters of Havergal and of those who knew her. And since authors cannot be known apart from their writings, Bugden includes many examples of Havergal’s poetry, songs, and devotional writings. (For a greater collection of her works, see Valuable Selections from the Writings of Frances Ridley Havergal.)
Overall, this is an impressive and enjoyable biography. It comes highly recommended, not just because of the great grace working in the life of Havergal, but also because of her current relatively unknown status. Though she was a familiar name in her own time, most Christians today know nothing of her. This is a mistake that needs to be corrected, and this biography is a step in that direction.
In Ever, only, ALL for Thee Pamela Bugden sketches the life and work of Frances Ridley Havergal with expert hand. Born a pastor’s daughter in 1836, Frances was a talented student with much opportunity to learn and develop. When the Lord Jesus Christ became Reality to her, she gave herself and her talents to be wholly His until her early death at the age of forty-two. While she lived, Miss Havergal was one of the most well-known and well-loved Christian writers in the English language. Her ministry, in song, pen and person, was widely known and loved, resulting in true growth for Christ’s Church. The Lord blessed the fruit of her hands with an amazing insight into spiritual truth, having about it the wonderful fragrance of Christ. Accordingly, her words and songs helped countless believers in her lifetime and still echo through the church today in some of her well-known hymns—‘Take My Life and Let it Be’ and ‘Like a River Glorious’. It is unfortunate that so much of her work remains widely unknown. Thus Pamela Bugden has done us all a favor by highlighting Frances’ life and work in these brief ‘glimpses’. Written by one who has poured over almost her entire life’s work, this book is a substantial introduction to the remarkable woman C. H. Spurgeon called, “the last and loveliest of our modern poets.”
“So much has been skillfully compressed into this book, leaving the reader challenged, re-invigorated and thankful for this Christian who in her brief years honoured and served the Saviour with all her being. We are indebted to Pamela Bugden for a popularly-written book which will surely bring the worth of Havergal to a new readership.”
– Rev. Iain and Jean Murray, reviewed in The Banner of Truth
“...an accomplishment indeed...to read this book is to receive a spiritual tonic...This is a thrilling story, well-researched and beautifully written, a most readable book, and one I would happily put in the hand of any seeker, to say nothing of the backslidden Christian. As for prayerfully-concerned believers—we cannot receive too much spiritual stimulus. Highly recommended!”
– Rev. Barry Shucksmith, reviewed in English Churchman
Pamela Bugden has been connected with the work of the Banner of Truth Trust for over thirty years and has recently been involved in proof-reading The Complete Works of Frances Ridley Havergal which is being prepared for publication. She is the wife of retired Baptist pastor, the Rev. David Bugden, who has ministered in several churches in the United Kingdom and also spent six years pastoring a church in Eastern Canada. They have three children and six grandchildren.