G K Chesterton Biography & Facts
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) was an English writer, philosopher, Christian apologist, and literary and art critic. He has been referred to as the "prince of paradox". Of his writing style, Time observed: "Whenever possible, Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out."Chesterton created the fictional priest-detective Father Brown, and wrote on apologetics. Even some of those who disagree with him have recognised the wide appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify this position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism from high church Anglicanism. Biographers have identified him as a successor to such Victorian authors as Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, John Henry Newman and John Ruskin.
Chesterton was born in Campden Hill in Kensington, London, the son of Edward Chesterton (1841–1922), an estate agent, and Marie Louise, née Grosjean, of Swiss French origin. Chesterton was baptised at the age of one month into the Church of England, though his family themselves were irregularly practising Unitarians. According to his autobiography, as a young man he became fascinated with the occult and, along with his brother Cecil, experimented with Ouija boards. He was educated at St Paul's School, then attended the Slade School of Art to become an illustrator. The Slade is a department of University College London, where Chesterton also took classes in literature, but did not complete a degree in either subject. He married Frances Blogg in 1901; the marriage lasted the rest of his life. Chesterton credited Frances with leading him back to Anglicanism, though he later considered Anglicanism to be a "pale imitation". He entered full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 1922. The couple were unable to have children.A friend from schooldays was Edmund Clerihew Bentley, inventor of the clerihew, a whimsical, four-line biographical poem. Chesterton himself wrote clerihews and illustrated his friend's first published collection of poetry, Biography for Beginners (1905), which popularised the clerihew form. He became godfather to Bentley's son, Nicolas, and opened his novel The Man Who Was Thursday with a poem written to Bentley.
In September 1895, Chesterton began working for the London publisher George Redway, where he remained for just over a year. In October 1896 he moved to the publishing house T. Fisher Unwin, where he remained until 1902. During this period he also undertook his first journalistic work, as a freelance art and literary critic. In 1902 the Daily News gave him a weekly opinion column, followed in 1905 by a weekly column in The Illustrated London News, for which he continued to write for the next thirty years.
Early on Chesterton showed a great interest in and talent for art. He had planned to become an artist, and his writing shows a vision that clothed abstract ideas in concrete and memorable images. Even his fiction contained carefully concealed parables. Father Brown is perpetually correcting the incorrect vision of the bewildered folks at the scene of the crime and wandering off at the end with the criminal to exercise his priestly role of recognition and repentance. For example, in the story "The Flying Stars", Father Brown entreats the character Flambeau to give up his life of crime: "There is still youth and honour and humour in you; don't fancy they will last in that trade. Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil. That road goes down and down. The kind man drinks and turns cruel; the frank man kills and lies about it. Many a man I've known started like you to be an honest outlaw, a merry robber of the rich, and ended stamped into slime."
Chesterton loved to debate, often engaging in friendly public disputes with such men as George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell and Clarence Darrow. According to his autobiography, he and Shaw played cowboys in a silent film that was never released. On 7 January 1914 Chesterton (along with his brother Cecil and future sister-in-law Ada) took part in the mock-trial of John Jasper for the murder of Edwin Drood. Chesterton was Judge and George Bernard Shaw played the role of foreman of the jury.Chesterton was a large man, standing 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) tall and weighing around 20 stone 6 pounds (130 kg; 286 lb). His girth gave rise to an anecdote during the First World War, when a lady in London asked why he was not "out at the Front"; he replied, "If you go round to the side, you will see that I am." On another occasion he remarked to his friend George Bernard Shaw, "To look at you, anyone would think a famine had struck England." Shaw retorted, "To look at you, anyone would think you had caused it." P. G. Wodehouse once described a very loud crash as "a sound like G. K. Chesterton falling onto a sheet of tin". Chesterton usually wore a cape and a crumpled hat, with a swordstick in hand, and a cigar hanging out of his mouth. He had a tendency to forget where he was supposed to be going and miss the train that was supposed to take him there. It is reported that on several occasions he sent a telegram to his wife Frances from an incorrect location, writing such things as "Am in Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?" to which she would reply, "Home". Chesterton himself told this story, omitting, however, his wife's alleged reply, in his autobiography.In 1931, the BBC invited Chesterton to give a series of radio talks. He accepted, tentatively at first. However, from 1932 until his death, Chesterton delivered over 40 talks per year. He was allowed (and encouraged) to improvise on the scripts. This allowed his talks to maintain an intimate character, as did the decision to allow his wife and secretary to sit with him during his broadcasts. The talks were very popular. A BBC official remarked, after Chesterton's death, that "in another year or so, he would have become the dominating voice from Broadcasting House."Chesterton was part of the Detection Club, a society of British mystery authors founded by Anthony Berkeley in 1928. He was elected as the first president and served from 1930 to 1936 till he was succeeded by E. C. Bentley.
Death and veneration
Chesterton died of congestive heart failure on 14 June 1936, aged 62, at his home in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. His last words were a greeting of good morning spoken to his wife Frances. The sermon at Chesterton's Requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral, London, was delivered by Ronald Knox on 27 June 1936. Knox said, "All of this generation has grown up under Chesterton's influence so completely that we do not even know when we are thinking Chesterton." He is buried in Beaconsfield in the Catholic Cemetery. Chesterton's es.... Discover the G K Chesterton popular books. Find the top 100 most popular G K Chesterton books.