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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 488319
Peter Forsaith researches, writes and publishes chiefly on aspects of religion, culture and society in 18th-century Britain. He also has responsibility for the Centre's Methodist-related archive holdings, the Wesley Historical Society library, and art collections (including the Methodist Church Collection of Modern Art)
Peter Forsaith is an historian of religion, culture and society in 18th century Britain, focusing upon the social impact of the evangelical revival; and the links between art and religion. He was visiting scholar at Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas; January-February 2002.
Forsaith, P. S., Image, identity and John Wesley; a study in portraiture, Routledge (2017) ISBN: 978-1-138-20789-9 Abstract The face of John Wesley (1703–91), the Methodist leader, became one of the most familiar images in the English-speaking and transatlantic worlds through the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After the dozen or so painted portraits made during his lifetime came numbers of posthumous portraits and moralising ‘scene paintings’, and hundreds of variations of prints. It was calculated that six million copies were produced of one print alone – an 1827 portrait by John Jackson R.A. as frontispiece for a hymn book.
Illustrated by nearly one hundred images, many in colour, with a comprehensive appendix listing known Wesley images, this book offers a much-needed comprehensive and critical survey of one of the most influential religious and public figures of eighteenth-century Britain. Besides chapters on portraits from the life and after, scene paintings and prints, it explores aspects of Wesley’s (and Methodism’s) attitudes to art, and the personality cult which gathered around Wesley as Methodism expanded globally. It will be of interest to art historians as a treatment of an individual sitter and subject, as well as to scholars engaged in Wesley and Methodist studies. It is also significant for the field of material studies, given the spread and use of the image, on artefacts as well as on paper.Website
Forsaith P, The Letters of the Revd John Fletcher of Madeley to Leaders in the Evangelical Revival, Epworth Press (2008) ISBN: 9780716206057 Abstract If John Fletcher, the 18th-century Vicar of Madeley, Shropshire, is known at all today it is usually as the outstanding saint of early Methodism and as John Wesley's presumed successor.
The publication of these letters, to John and Charles Wesley, Lady Huntingdon and George Whitefield, challenges existing understandings and points to his considerable importance within the breadth of the English Evangelical Revival. Many of his surviving letters have never been published; those that have were often heavily edited. Many of his letters to Charles Wesley originally in French are given with a translation. This critical edition, with extensive footnotes, will bring significant primary material to its readers and be an indispensable tool for studies in 18th-century religion and the history of Methodism as well as of early industrial Shropshire.
An introductory essay by the editor challenges the notion that Fletcher was first and foremost a dogmatic writer. He points to his 'Methodist' reputation being 'spun' by Wesley and others whereas Fletcher saw himself as an Anglican clergyman. The essay also points to Fletcher's formative Swiss origins and French influences, as well as to his mixed fortunes with women and how his saintly character developed over time.Website
Forsaith PS, 'James Smetham: Wesleyan Pre-Raphaelite' PRS Review XXIV (3) (2017) ISSN: eISSN:
Forsaith PS, '‘A far greater genius than Sir Joshua’; Did Joshua Reynolds (1723-1789) paint John Wesley (1703-1791)?' British Art Journal 16 (2016) ISSN: 1467-2006 eISSN: 1467-2006
Forsaith PS, 'A visit to Fonthill, 1806' The Beckford Journal 22 (2016) pp.35-40ISSN: 1359-8503 eISSN: 1359-8503Website
Forsaith P S, 'Preachers, prints and portraits: Methodists and image in Georgian Britain' The Journal of Religious History, Literature and Culture 1 (2) (2015) pp.55-75ISSN: 2057 4517 eISSN: 2057 4517Website
Forsaith P, 'The curious incident of Susanna Wesley's rosebud lips' in ANGELS AND IMPUDENT WOMEN:WOMEN IN METHODISM, The Wesley Historical Society (2008) ISBN: 9780955452710 Website
Forsaith P, review of Pursuing Social Holiness: The Band Meeting in Wesley's Thought and Popular Methodist Practice, in JOURNAL FOR EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY STUDIES 38 (2015) pp.459-460ISSN: 1754-0194 eISSN: 1754-0194Website
Forsaith P, review of An Introduction to World Methodism, in Journal of Ecclesiastical History 57 (2006) pp.622-623ISSN: 0022-0469 eISSN: 0022-0469Website
ConferencesConferencesRecent conference papers (unpublished)British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Oxford, January 2012, People and preachers in the landscape: Methodist 'field preaching' and its depiction.Duke University, NC Wesley summer seminar June 2011, and Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History annual colloquium, A sense of self: portraits and evangelical identity.Wesley Historical Society triennial conference, May 2011 (main speaker), Telling the world: the life-stories of Methodism.Methodist Missionary History Society, 24-25 November 2010, John Fletcher and the American Revolution.British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Oxford, January 2008: Portraits of John Wesley: an evangelical image.Methodist Identities conference, Wesley House, Cambridge, August 2007 (main speaker), Thy Nature and thy Name is 'Methodist': a disquisition into the place of Charles Wesley in the evolution of early Methodist identity;Oxford Institute for Methodist Studies, August 2007 (Eighteenth century early Methodist history working group): 'Moorfields, mollies and Methodists' The co-incidence of two divergent subcultures in eighteenth-century England (an exploration of links between between 'gay' subcultures in eighteenth century England and the emerging Methodist movement).University of Bristol, 'Music, Cultural History and the Wesleys'; July 2007: 'The curious incident of Susanna Wesley's rosebud lips'.ExhibitionsHark, the Herald-angels sing (Charles Wesley) [advisory co-curator], The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2007-2008.The Colour of Love (exhibition of the Methodist Church Collection of Modern Christian Art) St Michael's and Wesley Memorial churches, Oxford, April-June 2007.Sacred Harmony, the Musical Wesley Family, [consultant adviser for images]Bridwell Library, Dallas; 2007.Peter Forsaith has researched areas of Methodist-related history over more than 25 years and lectured in Britain and the U.S.A. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, member of the Society of Archivists and serves on various Methodist history-related bodies, including:Methodist Church Listed Buildings Advisory CommitteeCharles Wesley Society (British secretary and Executive member)Other experiencePhD 'The correspondence of the Revd. John W. Fletcher: letters to the Revd. Charles Wesley'. (Oxford Brookes University, 2003)
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He has had a diverse career, originally in catering and working mostly in social/caring settings, before joining Westminster College, Oxford in 1995 to run a 'widening participation' project working with black and Asian groups.Other interests and hobbies include antiques (silver and furniture); cooking; motorcycling; reading; swimming.
Peter Forsaith has researched areas of Methodist-related history over more than 25 years and lectured in Britain and the U.S.A. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, member of the Society of Archivists and serves on various Methodist history-related bodies, including:
He has had a diverse career, originally in catering and working mostly in social/caring settings, before joining Westminster College, Oxford in 1995 to run a 'widening participation' project working with black and Asian groups.
Other interests and hobbies include antiques (silver and furniture); cooking; motorcycling; reading; swimming.