Clarence Larkin was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, on October 28, 1850. He became born again at the age of 19 and was a member of an Episcopalian church.
Larkin graduated from college as a mechanical engineer, and became a professional draftsman. He also taught the blind, and later became a manufacturer.
From an early age, Larkin felt called to the ministry, but was unable to find a place in the ministry until, at the age of 32, he left the Episcopalian church and became a Baptist. He was ordained as an American Baptist minister in 1884, and left private business concerns to work full-time in his ministry.
Larkin is well-known for his exacting and meticulous chart designs, describing a premillennialist view of Scripture and dispensational study. However, Larkin’s premillennial understanding of the Bible did not take shape until after his ordination and gradual study of the topic. Though by no means the first to teach dispensational study of the Bible, Larkin’s charts and drawings, which he originally created for his use in the pulpit, resulted in instilling interest in those subjects and he became a popular teacher of his time. His charts, originally called "Prophetic Truth," were widely published and in great demand.
His most popular book, Dispensational Truth: God’s Plan and Purpose in the Ages, was so popular that the first printing was quickly distributed, and Larkin expanded the book for a new printing. Larkin published several other books as well: Rightly Dividing the Word (a more concise book on the same topic as Dispensational Truth), commentaries on Daniel and Revelation, The Spirit World, The Second Coming of Christ, and others.
Though Larkin’s teachings have spurred much controversy because of their dispensational nature, Larkin always refused to engage in personal arguments within his writings and always focused on teaching the Bible.
Clarence Larkin did not originally intend to become a publisher of Bible study material, but his works became so popular that he felt called to focus full-time on his writing, and he resigned his pastorate five years before his death to do so. Larkin died and left to Glory on January 24, 1924.