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Chesterton, G. K. (1874-1936)



  • Existence: 1874-1936

Biographical Statement

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, prolific journalist and author, was well known for his apologetics, biographies, detective fiction, literary, social, and political commentary, and modern history. Possessing a keen wit, a comic genius delighting in paradox, and a gift for religious argument, he published nearly 100 books and over 4,000 newspaper columns and essays.

While attending art school in London in the mid-1890s when he was about twenty, Chesterton realized his artistic limitations and determined to pursue journalism. A few years later he was writing columns regularly for several newspapers, including the Daily News and the Illustrated London News, and by 1902 was widely recognized for his abilities as a political and social critic, and as a writer in general. During the first decade of the 20th century Chesterton's voluminous written output only increased, and included his first novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, and his classic work on the basics of Christian belief, Orthodoxy. Chesterton also met George Bernard Shaw and Hillaire Belloc during this period, men with whom he worked and debated for most of the rest of his life. He took over editorship of the The New Witness in the 1910s, and renamed it G.K.'s Weekly, using it as another vehicle for his articles and essays, and to introduce his Father Brown detective stories. Chesterton and his wife, Frances, visited the U.S. twice between 1920 and 1930, both times stopping in Chicago. His book, What I Saw in America (1922) contains his thoughts about his 1921 trip. Chesterton continued writing essays and articles, among them "The Everlasting Man" and "The Thing: Why I Am a Catholic." The former work helped convince C.S. Lewis of the sensibleness of Christianity.

A large man in later life, Chesterton was often seen on London's streets walking to and from his office, sporting a cape, swordstick, crumpled hat, and tiny glasses, talking with friends and colleagues. In the early 1930s, Chesterton began a series of popular BBC radio broadcasts addressing a variety of issues. Chesterton died in 1936 at age 62.

At an early age Chesterton ceased to accept the existence of a higher being, but later came to believe in a personal God and in the Christian faith. He eventually became a Roman Catholic, finding there the spiritual discipline and responsibility he believed were needed in an increasingly decadent world. In spite of his strong ties to the Catholic Church, Chesterton's writings spanned denominational lines with such apologetic works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man--writings that dealt with the core tenets of the Christian faith.


Found in 7 Collections and/or Records:

Alzina Stone Dale Papers

 Collection — Container: Books
Identifier: SC-106
Scope and Contents

The Alzina Stone Dale Papers are composed primarily of correspondence to/from Madeleine L'Engle, as well as, interviews, articles, book reviews, pamphlets, poems, and media material.

Dates: Created: 1981-1999; Other: Date acquired: 2001

Author Societies Archive

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Wade-A-14 through A-15

The materials in this archive relate to groups and societies dedicated to promoting the works and lives of the seven authors inĀ  the Wade Center's collections.

Dates: Created: 1965-2019

Brocard Sewell Collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-24
Abstract This archive contains poems by Cecil Edward Chesterton, letters to Father Brocard Sewell, and the typescript of Sewell's biography of Cecil Chesterton. Cecil Chesterton, the younger brother of G.K. Chesterton, was the editor of The New Witness, author of A History of the United States and The Party System, widely known in political circles, member of the Fabian Society and the Christian...
Dates: Created: 1892-1983; Other: Majority of material found in 1972-1975

Events File Archive

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Wade-A-126, 126a, 127, and B-36

This archive includes materials from various events related to the Wade authors, including dramatic performances, conferences, academic courses, exhibitions, etc. More additions may be included in this archive at any time.

Dates: Created: 1966-2023

G.K. Chesterton: Selected Criticism Archive

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-17

This archive is the result of the work of Sister M. Carol A.C., of India. The self-bound book is almost 500 pages long and an extremely complete gathering of Chesterton's literary criticism. It was Sister M. Carol's hope that this would someday be published.

Dates: Created: 1975

John Sullivan Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Wade-A-92 through 94 and A-19a-b

This archive contains materials from the Chesterton collection of John J. Sullivan, and other personal interests of his. Included is a large variety of newspaper clippings, correspondence, book catalogs, Chesterton-related events materials, and secondary critical work on Chesterton by Sullivan and others, both published and unpublished. Many materials were removed from this archive and incorporated into the Wade Center's Chesterton holdings.

Dates: Created: 1899-1982; Other: Majority of material found in 1950-1980

Mr. Chesterton Comes to Tea Archive

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-10

This archive contains manuscripts, typescripts, proofs, related correspondence, and other materials concerned with Aidan Mackey's book, Mr. Chesterton Comes to Tea.

Dates: Created: 1974-1982; Other: Majority of material found in 1977-1979

Additional filters:

Chesterton, G. K. -- Archives. 4
Articles. 1
Authors, English. 1
Barfield, Owen, -- Archives. 1
Barfield, Owen, -- Societies, etc. 1