George Whitefield became a legend early in his life and has remained a popular subject for historians since.

The earliest source on Whitefield is Whitefield himself. He wrote two autobiographical sketches, A Short Account of God’s Dealings with the Reverend Mr. George Whitefield (1740) and A Further Account (1747). More famous are his Journals, a running commentary on his early ministry (1737–1745). An excellent modern edition of these is George Whitefield’s Journals (Banner of Truth Trust, 1960).

Whitefield’s sermons are another important source for understanding him. Among many collections available is Select Sermons by George Whitefield (Banner of Truth Trust, 1958).

Whitefield’s Biographers

The first Whitefield biographies began circulating within a year of his death, and surprisingly, the early ones are often his best.

• John Gillies’s Memoirs of the Reverend George Whitefield, M.A. (1771) is a lengthy, detailed, and admiring account. Gillies, a Scot, knew Whitefield personally.

• Robert Philip’s The Life and Times of the Reverend George Whitefield (1837) is another weighty biography, the first to note how Whitefield successfully borrowed techniques of English drama.

• Daniel Newell’s The Life of Rev. George Whitefield (1846) was the first important American biography of Whitefield, peculiar for its woodcut illustrations.

• The centennial of Whitefield’s death set off renewed interest in Whitefield, culminating in Luke Tyerman’s monumental The Life of the Rev. George Whitefield, 2 vols. (1876–1877). The great Methodist historian lavishes 1,200 pages on Whitefield, and the book remains (after Gillies’s) the most important study of Whitefield.

Modern biographies include:

• Stuart Henry’s compact and readable ...

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