Faithful Heroes: G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton was an English writer, poet, philospoher, dramatist, journalist, orator, biographer, art and literary critic and lay theologian. He is often referred to as the “prince of paradox”.
Time magazine has observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.”
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born on May 29, 1874 in Kensington, London, England. He was the son of Edward and Marie Louise Grosjean Chesterton.
He was baptized in the Church of England, although the family irregularly practiced Unitarianism. He wrote in his autobiography that as a young man, he and his brother, Cecil, experimented with Ouija boards.
In September 1895, he began his career in publishing, working for several publishing houses. He had originally planned on a career as an artist, for which he went to school, and his love of art is found in his writings.
In 1901, he married Frances Blogg, who he credited with leading him back to the Anglican church.
Chesterton was a large man, standing 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing more than 286 pounds.
In 1902, he began to write a weekly opinion column, which he would write for the next thirty years.
Chesterton began to write and publish his well known series, Father Brown. He wrote fifty-three short stories featuring the Roamn Catholic Priest and amateur detective between 1910-1936.
“Chesterton usually wore a cape and a crumpled hat, with a sword stick 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.”
Chestertan is said to have loved to debate and enjoyed engaging in friendly disputes with his friends, such as H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Clarence Darrow.
In 1922, he entered full communion with the Catholic Church.
In 1931, the BBC invited Chesterton to give a series of radio talks. While reluctant at first, he eventually began to give over forty talks a year, which became very popular. He often improvised while talking to his wife and secretary during he broadcast, leading to an intimate feel.
Chesterton.org describes the man by saying “G.K. Chesterton was the best writer of the 20th century. He said something about everything and he said it better than anybody else. But he was no mere word smith. He was very good at expressing himself, but more importantly, he had something very good to express. The reason he was the greatest writer of the 20th century was because he was also the greatest thinker of the 20th century.”
After his death, a BBC official remarked “in another year or so, he would have become the dominating voice from Broadcasting House.”
He died on June 14, 1936 in Buckinghamshire, England at the age of sixty-two, from congestive heart failure.
He left a prolific amount of work behind him including ” 80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4000 essays, and several plays.” His best-known character is the priest-detective Father Brown.