G. K. Chesterton Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)
G. K. Chesterton G. K. Chesterton Image via writersmug.com

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born on May 29, 1874, in London of middle-class parents. Between 1887 and 1892, he attended St. Paul’s School, a private day school for boys. From 1892 to 1895, he studied at the Slade School of Art, a part of the University of London.

Chesterton did not distinguish himself academically, although evidence of his future greatness was present. When only sixteen, he organized a debating club, and in March of 1891 he founded the club’s magazine, The Debater. His limited talent as an artist bore fruit later in life, when he often illustrated his own books and those of close friends.

Prior to publication of his first two books in 1900, Chesterton contributed verse, book reviews, and essays to various periodicals, including the Bookman. He also did editorial work for two publishers between 1895 and 1901.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Chesterton was widely recognized as a serious journalist. Throughout his life, despite his fame as a novelist, literary critic, poet, biographer, historian, playwright, and even philosopher-theologian, he never described himself as anything other than a journalist.

In 1901, Chesterton married Frances Blogg, the eldest daughter of a London diamond merchant. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Beaconsfield, where they lived until his death on June 14, 1936. Chesterton published his first mystery collection, The Club of Queer Trades, in 1905. The first collection of Father Brown detective stories appeared in 1911. He was elected the first president of the Detection Club, an association of mystery writers, at its founding in 1929. The mystery and detective tales were but a small part of an immense and varied literary output. Chesterton published around one hundred books during his lifetime. His autobiography and ten volumes of essays were published posthumously. His journalistic pieces number into the thousands.

Chesterton was a colorful figure. Grossly overweight, he wore a black cape and a wide-brimmed floppy hat; he had a bushy mustache and carried a sword-stick cane. The public remembers him as the lovable and whimsical creator of Father Brown; scholars also remember him as one of the most prolific and influential writers of the twentieth century.

G. K. Chesterton Biography

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born on May 29, 1874, in London. He was the second of three children born to Edward and Marie Louise Chesterton. Edward Chesterton was a realtor. Gilbert’s older sister, Beatrice, died at the age of eight, in 1877, and two years later his brother, Cecil, was born. Everything seems to indicate that Edward and Marie Louise were loving parents.

In 1982, Gilbert was graduated from St. Paul’s School in London. For the next three years, he studied at London’s Slade Art School, but he finally realized that he would never develop into a truly creative artist. From 1895 until 1900, he worked for a publishing firm. From 1901 until his death, in 1936, he served as a journalist and editor for various London newspapers and magazines.

In 1901, he married Frances Blogg. Gilbert and Frances had no children. Theirs was a good marriage, each helping the other. Frances survived her husband by two years. During the first decade of the twentieth century, Chesterton met the writers Hilaire Belloc and Shaw, who became his lifelong friends. Although Belloc and Shaw seemed to have little in common because Belloc was an apologist for Catholicism and Shaw was an agnostic, Chesterton liked them both very much. Several times, Belloc organized lively but good-natured debates in which Shaw and Chesterton discussed religion and politics. Throughout his adult life, Chesterton supported the Liberal Party in Great Britain, but gradually he...

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G. K. Chesterton Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in London on May 29, 1874, to a middle-class family. His father, Edward, was an estate agent who liked literature and art, and his mother, Marie, was the daughter of a Wesleyan lay preacher. Both parents were Unitarians, but they baptized their son in the Anglican Church. Chesterton attended the Colet Court preparatory school and then, in 1887, went to St. Paul’s School. His academic record was not good, but he finally began to demonstrate literary capability as a member of the Junior Debating Club, which he and some of his fellow students established during the summer of 1890. Two years later he won the Milton Prize for his poem “St. Francis Xavier.”

From 1892 to 1895, Chesterton attended the Slade School to study art and took some courses in French, English, and Latin at University College, London. He did not do well, however, except in his English courses, and he left the Slade School in 1895 without taking a degree. For the next six years he worked in publishing houses, reading authors’ manuscripts, and at night he did his own writing. In 1900 his first two books appeared, Greybeards at Play: Literature and Art for Old Gentlemen—Rhymes and Sketches and The Wild Knight, and Other Poems, both works of poetry. The next year he began to submit articles regularly to the Speaker and the Daily News and thus started a career as a journalist that was to last until his death. He...

(The entire section is 496 words.)

G. K. Chesterton Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)
ph_0111207070-Chesterton.jpg G. K. Chesterton. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

The English essayist, novelist, and poet Gilbert Keith Chesterton, was educated at St. Paul’s School, which he left in 1891 to study art before following his natural bent toward literature by producing his first book of poems, The Wild Knight, in 1900. In 1901, he married Frances Blogg and became a regular contributor to two leading newspapers. Chesterton regarded himself as a journalist, and nothing that was in the news of the day failed to get into his writing. From 1918 on, he edited G. K.’s Weekly.

Although Chesterton became famous for his ardent apologies on orthodox Anglican and Roman Catholic dogma and he himself converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922, he was a very tolerant man; two of his closest friends, H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw, were nonbelievers. The general Christian truths he preached in Orthodoxy in 1908 he later also expounded in St. Thomas Aquinas in 1933. He was a controversial thinker whose “chief idea of life” was the awakening of wonder, or of an awareness of a thing as being seen for the first time. He became a master of paradox. He declared, for example, that “nothing succeeds like failure,” but he was referring to the “failure” of Calvary.

A prolific writer, Chesterton will be remembered longest, in all probability, for his literary criticisms (Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, George Bernard Shaw, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Chaucer) and for his penetrating religious analyses (St. Francis of Assisi, The Everlasting Man, and The Thing). A delightful light verse writer and illustrator, he was also a fine rhetorical poet. As a writer of fiction, he was perhaps most successful in the five volumes of his Father Brown detective stories, in which Father Brown relies on keen intuition and theological insights to solve crimes that baffle professional detectives. In all of his works, however, including three plays and innumerable essays, he hammers home Christian truths. Through his sociological books, What’s Wrong with the World and The Outline of Sanity, he became with Hilaire Belloc a leading exponent of the policy of economic and political decentralization known as “Distributism.”

Possessing a brilliant mind and a huge hulk of a body, this Christian humorist endeared himself to thousands through his writings and extensive lecture tours in Europe, America, and Palestine. His much-touted absent-mindedness and shaggy appearance lent themselves for the subject of innumerable cartoons and anecdotes.