Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Robert C. Bray  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1944 in Pittsburg, Kansas

-- Website --
-- Robert C. Bray on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Bray lives in Bloomington, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Bray graduated from the University of Chicago, with his M.A. in 1967 and his Ph.D. in 1971. He is the R. Forrest Colwell Professor of American Literature, at Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Diary of a Common Soldier in the American Revolution, 1775-1783: An Annotated Edition of the Military Journal of Jeremiah Greenman

Northern Illinois University Press. 1986

Rediscoveries: Literature and Place in Illinois
ISBN: 0252009118

University of Illinois Press. 1991

Peter Cartwright, Legendary Frontier Preacher
ISBN: 0252029860

University of Illinois Press. 2005

Believing deeply that the gospel touched every aspect of a person's life, Peter Cartwright was a man who held fast to his principles, resulting in a life of itinerant preaching and thirty years of political quarrels with Abraham Lincoln. Peter Cartwright, Legendary Frontier Preacher is the first full-length biography of this most famous of the early nineteenth-century Methodist circuit-riding preachers.

Robert Bray tells the full story of the long relationship between Cartwright and Lincoln, including their political campaigns against each other, their social antagonisms, and their radical disagreements on the Christian religion, as well as their shared views on slavery and the central fact of their being "self-made."

In addition, the biography examines in close detail Cartwright's instrumental role in Methodism's bitter "divorce" of 1844, in which the southern conferences seceded in a remarkable prefigurement of the United States a decade later. Finally, Peter Cartwright attempts to place the man in his appropriate national context: as a potent "man of words" on the frontier, a self-authorizing "legend in his own time," and, surprisingly, an enduring western literary figure.

Reading With Lincoln
ISBN: 0809329956

Southern Illinois University Press. 2010

Through extensive reading and reflection, Abraham Lincoln fashioned a mind as powerfully intellectual and superlatively communicative as that of any other American political leader. Reading with Lincoln uncovers the how of Lincoln’s inspiring rise to greatness by connecting the content of his reading to the story of his life.

At the core of Lincoln’s success was his self-education, centered on his love of and appreciation for learning through books. From his early studies of grammar school handbooks and children’s classics to his interest in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Bible during his White House years, what Lincoln read helped to define who he was as a person and as a politician. This unique study delves into the books, pamphlets, poetry, plays, and essays that influenced Lincoln’s thoughts and actions.

Exploring in great depth and detail those readings that inspired the sixteenth president, author Robert Bray follows Lincoln’s progress closely, from the young teen composing letters for illiterate friends and neighbors to the politician who keenly employed what he read to advance his agenda. Bray analyzes Lincoln’s radical period in New Salem, during which he came under the influence of Anglo-American and French Enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Paine, C. F. Volney, and Voltaire, and he investigates Lincoln’s appreciation of nineteenth-century lyric poetry, which he both read and wrote. Bray considers Lincoln’s fascination with science, mathematics, political economics, liberal social philosophy, theology, and the Bible, and devotes special attention to Lincoln’s enjoyment of American humor. While striving to arrive at an understanding of the role each subject played in the development of this remarkable leader, Bray also examines the connections and intertextual relations between what Lincoln read and how he wrote and spoke.

This comprehensive and long-awaited book provides fresh insight into the self-made man from the wilderness of Illinois. Bray offers a new way to approach the mind of the political artist who used his natural talent, honed by years of rhetorical study and practice, to abolish slavery and end the Civil War.


Illinois Humanities Council Essay Grant (1983)

Elected to Membership, Society of Midland Authors (1986)

R. Forrest Colwell Endowed Chair in American Literature (1986)

Whos Who in America (1994)

Winner of the inaugural Saddlebag Selection of the Historical Society of the United Methodist Church for the best book on American Methodism (2006)

for ''Peter Cartwright

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (No)