G. K. Chesterton

1874–1936
G. K. Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton was one of the dominating figures of the London literary scene in the early twentieth century. Not only did he get into lively discussions with anyone who would debate him, including his friend, frequent verbal sparring partner, and noted Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, but he wrote about seemingly every topic, in every genre, from journalism to plays, poetry to crime novels. "He said something about everything and he said it better than anyone else," declared Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chester Society, on the society's Web site. Most of Chesterton's literary output was nonfiction, including thousands of columns for various periodicals, but today he is best remembered for his fictional work--a mystery series about Father Brown, a Catholic priest and amateur detective.

Chesterton began his literary career as a manuscript reader for a London publishing house, but he soon moved into writing art criticism. When his friends formed a journal, the Speaker, Chesterton contributed a series of articles, and soon began writing for the London Daily News and Bookman as well. Before long, people were taking notice of his work. Ian Boyd explained in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, "He belonged to that category of writer which used to be called the man of letters, and like the typical man of letters he wrote journalism which included a wide variety of literary forms and literature which possessed many of the characteristics of journalism."

Chesterton's first published books were of poetry, seemingly a far cry from his column-writing. But Boyd noticed a "close connection between his poetry and his everyday journalism." Boyd concluded: "In this sense, T. S. Eliot's description of Chesterton's poetry as 'first-rate journalistic balladry' turns out to have been particularly perceptive, since it is a reminder about the essential character of all Chesterton's work. In his verse, as in all his writings, his first aim was to comment on the political and social questions of the day."

Chesterton's first novel, the manuscript of which was discovered in a steamer trunk in 1989, was published for the first time in 2001. Basil Howe was written in 1893, shortly after Chesterton graduated from school. Although, as critics noted, the book is clearly the work of an inexperienced, unformed writer, it shows hints of Chesterton's future style--including the witticisms for which he would later become famous--and provides insights into his frame of mind during this stage in his life. It has long been known that Chesterton underwent a period of philosophical soul-searching during his young adulthood that was so intense that some of his friends thought he was losing his mind, and Basil Howe is assumed to have been written during that time. "Those familiar with Chesterton's teenage years will see much of the author in" the book, Mark Knight commented in English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, although he cautioned against reading the book as autobiography rather than as a novel.

Although best known nowadays for his detective fiction, Chesterton first gained public attention as a journalist and social philosopher; he actually wrote the popular, lucrative Father Brown mysteries in part to bankroll his less financially rewarding work. Questions of religion and morality were prominent in his writings. His book What's Wrong with the World advocated Distributism, a social philosophy that divided property holders into small communities, trying to foster neighborliness. Chesterton viewed Distributism as a counter to Socialism and Capitalism, ideologies that, he felt, reduced people to inhumane units. Stephen Metcalf, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, pointed out that this philosophy, also expounded in the 1904 novel The Napoleon of Notting Hill, more accurately reflects modern society's problems than does George Orwell's classic 1984: "It is not only . . . that Chesterton cared passionately for what ordinary humanity feels and thinks," Metcalf stated. "It is also that he had particular convictions about how one should understand humanity."

Much of Chesterton's work reflected his social concern. Using literary devices such as parable and allegory, he sought to bring about social changes that embodied his religious and political beliefs. His novels, reported Brian Murray in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, "are as frequently called romances, extravaganzas, fantasies, parables, or allegories. For while they are thick with the details of everyday life, Chesterton's hastily written book-length fictions are outlandishly plotted and, in the main, unabashedly didactic."

This didacticism has alienated modern readers from some of Chesterton's fiction. His detective stories, however, remain popular. Chesterton himself was very fond of the detective story and recognized that much of his writing was pedantic and would probably not survive him. "Chesterton assumed that he would never be considered a novelist of enormous importance," asserted Murray; "that, as a writer of fiction, he would always remain best known for the long series of Father Brown stories he began with The Innocence of Father Brown in 1911--stories he sometimes tossed off in a day or two."

Chesterton was raised in a theologically liberal family and did not convert to Catholicism until the age of 48, more than a decade after the first Father Brown stories were published. Loosely based upon Chesterton's friend, the Roman Catholic priest John O'Connor, Father Brown "drops typical Chestertonian quips as he solves ghastly transgressions not with Holmes-sharp logic but by 'getting inside' the criminal mind," according to Murray. Rather than using deductive methods to discover the perpetrator of a crime, Father Brown--whom Chesterton depicted in his Autobiography as "shabby and shapeless [in appearance], his face round and expressionless, his manners clumsy"--bases his conclusions on his knowledge of human nature. This knowledge is drawn in part from his experience in the confessional box, but also from his recognition of his own capacity for evil. "The little priest could see," stated Ronald Knox in his introduction to Father Brown: Selected Stories, "not as a psychologist, but as a moralist, into the dark places of the human heart; could guess, therefore, at what point envy, or fear, or resentment would pass the bounds of the normal, and the cords of convention would snap, so that a man was hurried into crime." "To Father Brown," wrote Eric Routley in The Puritan Pleasures of the Detective Story: A Personal Monograph, "any criminal is a good man gone wrong. He is not an evil man who has cut himself off from the comprehension or sympathy of those who labour to be good." To this end, Brown is not primarily interested in solving the case, but in getting the criminal to confess his sin and repent, thereby saving his soul.

Father Brown remains, in the minds of most readers, Chesterton's greatest creation, although his contribution to the art of mystery writing is also recognized. "If Chesterton had not created Father Brown," Leitch declared, "his detective fiction would rarely be read today, but his place in the historical development of the genre would still be secure." Even in his own day, Chesterton was considered to be the father of the detective tale. As Leitch noted, when the Detection Club was founded in 1928, "Chesterton, not Conan Doyle [creator of Sherlock Holmes] . . . became its first president and served in this capacity until his death." Not only did Chesterton write detective stories, he also wrote several critical essays about the proper form and style of such works.

Under the influence of Chesterton's Father Brown, the mystery story became less a portrait of the detective's personality, and more a puzzle that the detective and the reader could both solve. "Chesterton's determination to provide his audience with all the clues available to his detectives," stated Leitch, "has been so widely imitated as to become the defining characteristic of the formal or golden age period (roughly 1920-1940) in detective fiction. . . . Modern readers, for whom the term whodunit has become synonymous with detective story, forget that the concealment of the criminal's identity as the central mystery of the story is a relatively modern convention." In the end, H. R. F. Keating (himself a prominent mystery writer) concluded in the St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, "Chesterton's fame rests on the priest with 'the harmless, human name of Brown' and it will endure."

Bibliography

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

  • The Napoleon of Notting Hill (also see below), illustrated by W. Graham Robertson, John Lane (New York, NY), 1904, with an introduction by Andrew M. Greeley, Paulist Press (New York, NY), 1978, with an introduction by Martin Gardner, Dover (New York, NY), 1991, edited and with an introduction by Bernard Bergonzi, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.
  • The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare, (also see below) Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1908, with an introduction by Garry Wills, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1975, edited and with an introduction by Stephen Medcalf, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1996, edited by Josef Kraus, Wexford College Press (Palm Springs, CA), 2001 , with an introduction by Jonathan Lethem, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2001, published as The Annotated Thursday: G. K. Chesterton's Masterpiece, The Man Who Was Thursday, annotated by Martin Gardner, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA), 1999.
  • The Ball and the Cross, John Lane (New York, NY), 1909, with an introduction by Martin Gardner, Dover (New York, NY), 1995.
  • Manalive, Nelson (New York, NY), 1912, Dover (Mineola, NY), 2000.
  • The Flying Inn (also see below), John Lane (New York, NY), 1914, Dover (Mineola, NY), 2001.
  • The Return of Don Quixote, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1926, Dufour Editions (Philadelphia, PA), 1963.
  • A G. K. Chesterton Omnibus (includes The Napoleon of Notting Hill, The Man Who Was Thursday, and The Flying Inn), Methuen (London, England), 1936.
  • Basil Howe (Chesterton's first novel, written in 1893, discovered in 1989), New City (London, England), 2001.

SHORT STORIES

  • The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown, Shurmer Sibthorp, 1903.
  • (Self-illustrated) The Club of Queer Trades, Harper (New York, NY), 1905, with an introduction by Martin Gardner, Dover (New York, NY), 1987, Thorndike Press (Waterville, ME), 2004.
  • The Innocence of Father Brown, illustrated by Will F. Foster, Cassell (New York, NY), 1911, annotated edition published as The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown, edited by Martin Gardner, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1987, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1998.
  • The Wisdom of Father Brown, Cassell (New York, NY), 1914, MacroPrintBooks (Chesterfield, MO), 2000.
  • The Perishing of the Pendragons, Paget (New York, NY), 1914.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much and Other Stories, Cassell (New York, NY), 1922, abridged edition published as The Man Who Knew Too Much, illustrated by W. Hatherell, Harper (New York, NY), 1922, Dover (Mineloa, NY), 2003.
  • Tales of the Long Bow, Cassell (New York, NY), 1925, Dufour Editions (Philadelphia, PA), 1963, selections published as The Exclusive Luxury of Enoch Oates [and] The Unthinkable Theory of Professor Green, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1925, and The Unprecedented Architecture of Commander Blair, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1925.
  • The Incredulity of Father Brown, Cassell (New York, NY), 1926, G. K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1984.
  • The Secret of Father Brown, Cassell (New York, NY), 1927, G. K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1985.
  • The Sword of Wood, Elkin Mathews, 1928, Norwood Editions (Norwood, PA), 1978.
  • Stories, Harrap, 1928.
  • The Poet and the Lunatics: Episodes in the Life of Gabriel Gale, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1929, Dufour Editions (Philadelphia, PA), 1963.
  • The Moderate Murderer [and] The Honest Quack (also see below), Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1929.
  • The Father Brown Stories, Cassell (New York, NY), 1929, 12th edition, 1974, published as The Father Brown Omnibus, Dodd, Mead, 1933, new and revised edition, 1951, with a preface by Auberon Waugh, 1983.
  • The Ecstatic Thief (also see below), Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1930.
  • Four Faultless Felons (includes The Moderate Murderer, The Honest Quack, The Ecstatic Thief, and The Loyal Traitor), Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1930, with an introduction by Martin Gardner, Dover (New York, NY), 1989.
  • The Scandal of Father Brown, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1935, G. K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1986.
  • The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1937, with an introduction by Martin Gardner, Dover (New York, NY), 1990.
  • The Pocket Book of Father Brown, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1943.
  • The Vampire of the Village, privately published, 1947.
  • Father Brown: Selected Stories, edited and with an introduction by Ronald Knox, Oxford University Press, 1955.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Father Brown, Dell (New York, NY), 1961.
  • Father Brown Mystery Stories, selected and edited by Raymond T. Bond, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1962.
  • G. K. Chesterton: Selected Stories, edited by Kingsley Amis, Faber (New York, NY), 1972.
  • Daylight and Nightmare: Uncollected Stories and Fables, edited by Marie Smith, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1986.
  • Thirteen Detectives: Classic Mystery Stories, edited by Marie Smith, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1987.
  • Seven Suspects, edited by Marie Smith, foreword by H. R. F. Keating, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 1990.
  • Best of Father Brown, selected and with an introduction by H. R. F. Keating, C. E. Tuttle (Rutland, VT), 1991.
  • Favorite Father Brown Stories, Dover Publications (New York, NY), 1993.
  • Father Brown--a Selection, edited by W. W. Robson, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1995.
  • Father Brown of the Church of Rome: Selected Mystery Stories, edited and with an introduction by John Peterson, Ignatius Press (San Francisco), 1996.

POEMS

  • Greybeards at Play: Literature and Art for Old Gentlemen, Rhymes and Sketches (also see below), Johnson, 1900, Sheed & Ward (London, England), 1930.
  • The Wild Knight and Other Poems, Richards (London, England), 1900, 4th revised edition, Dutton (New York, NY), 1914.
  • The Ballad of the White Horse, John Lane (New York, NY), 1911, edited by Sister Mary Bernadette, Brother John Totten and Brother George Schuster, illustrated by Addison Burbank, Catholic Authors Press (Kirkwood, MO), 1950, edited by Bernadette Sheridan, illustrated by Robert Austin, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA), 2001.
  • Poems, John Lane (New York, NY), 1915.
  • Wine, Water and Song, Methuen (London, England), 1915, 1945.
  • A Poem, privately published, 1915.
  • Old King Cole, privately published, 1920.
  • The Ballad of St. Barbara and Other Verses, Palmer (London, England), 1922, Putnam (New York, NY), 1923.
  • Poems, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1922.
  • G. K. Chesterton (collected poems), E. Benn, 1925, Methuen (London, England), 1933.
  • The Queen of Seven Swords, Sheed & Ward (London, England), 1926.
  • The Collected Poems of G. K. Chesterton, Palmer (London, England), 1927, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1932, revised edition, Methuen (London, England), 1933, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1966, with an introduction by Daniel B. Dodson, 1980.
  • Gloria in Profundis, wood engravings by Eric Gill, Faber (London, England), 1927.
  • Ubi Ecclesia, drawings by Diana Murphy, Faber (London, England), 1929.
  • Lepanto, Federal Advertising Agency (New York, NY), 1929, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA), 2004.
  • The Grave of Arthur, Faber (London, England), 1930.
  • Graybeards at Play and Other Comic Verse, edited by John Sullivan, Elek (London, England), 1974.

LITERARY CRITICISM AND ESSAYS

  • The Defendant (essays), Johnson (London, England), 1901, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1902, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1972.
  • (With J. E. Hodder Williams) Thomas Carlyle, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1902, Pott (New York, NY), 1903, R. West (Philadelphia, PA), 1978.
  • Twelve Types, Humphreys (London, England), 1902, published as Twelve Types: A Collection of Mini-Biographies, IHS Press (Norfolk, VA), 2002, enlarged edition published as Varied Types, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1903, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1968, abridged edition published as Five Types: A Book of Essays, Humphreys (London, England), 1910, Holt (New York, NY), 1911, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1969, new abridged edition published as Simplicity and Tolstoy, Humphreys (London, England), 1912.
  • (With W. Robertson Nicoll) Robert Louis Stevenson (also see below), Pott (New York, NY), 1903, Norwood Editions (Norwood, PA), 1976.
  • (With G. H. Perris and Edward Garnett) Leo Tolstoy, Pott (New York, NY), 1903, Norwood Editions (Norwood, PA), 1978.
  • (With F. G. Kitton) Charles Dickens, Pott (New York, NY), 1903.
  • Robert Browning, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1903, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1951.
  • (With Richard Garnett) Tennyson, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1903.
  • (With Lewis Melville) Thackeray, Pott (New York, NY), 1903, R. West (Philadelphia, PA), 1978.
  • G. F. Watts, Dutton (New York, NY), 1904.
  • Heretics (essays; also see below), John Lane (New York, NY), 1905, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1970.
  • Charles Dickens: A Critical Study, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1906, new edition, with a foreword by Alexander Woolcott, published as Charles Dickens: The Last of the Great Men, Readers Club Press, 1942, with an introduction by Steven Marchus, Schocken Books (New York, NY), 1965, Burns & Oates (London, England), 1975.
  • All Things Considered (essays), John Lane (New York, NY), 1908, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1971.
  • George Bernard Shaw, John Lane (New York, NY), 1909, revised edition, Bodley Head (London, England), 1950, Folcroft Library Editions (Folcroft, PA), 1978.
  • Orthodoxy (essays; also see below), John Lane (New York, NY), 1909, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA), 1995.
  • Alarms and Discussions (essays), Methuen (London, England), 1910, enlarged edition, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1911.
  • William Blake, Dutton (New York, NY), 1910, R. West (Philadelphia, PA), 1978.
  • What's Wrong with the World (essays), Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1910, with a tutorial introduction by F. J. Sheed, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1942, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA), 1994.
  • Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens, Dutton (New York, NY), 1911, introduction by Michael Slater, C. E. Tuttle (Rutland, VT), 1992.
  • A Defence of Nonsense and Other Essays, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1911.
  • The Victorian Age in Literature, Williams & Norgate, 1913, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1966.
  • Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays, Boni & Liveright, 1917, IHS Press (Norfolk, VA), 2002.
  • Charles Dickens Fifty Years After, privately published, 1920.
  • The Uses of Diversity: A Book of Essays, Methuen (London, England), 1920, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1921.
  • Eugenics and Other Evils (essays), Cassell (London, England), 1922, published as Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument against the Scientifically Organized State, edited by Michael W. Perry, with additional articles by Francis Galton, C. W. Saleeby, Marie Stopes, and others, Inkling Books (Seattle, WA), 2000.
  • William Cobbett, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1925.
  • The Everlasting Man (essays), Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1925, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA), 1993.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1927, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1928.
  • Generally Speaking: A Book of Essays, Methuen (London, England), 1928, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1929, Books for Libraries (Freeport, NY), 1968.
  • Essays, Harrap, 1928.
  • Come to Think of It... : A Collection of Essays, Methuen (London, England), 1930, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1931, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1971.
  • All Is Grist: A Book of Essays, Methuen (London, England), 1931, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1932, Scholarly Press (St. Clair Shores, MI), 1971.
  • Chaucer, Farrar & Rinehart (New York, NY), 1932, Greenwood Press (New York, NY), 1969.
  • Sidelights on London and Newer York and Other Essays, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1932, Scholarly Press (St. Clair Shores, MI), 1970.
  • All I Survey: A Book of Essays, Methuen (London, England), 1933, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1967.
  • Avowals and Denials: A Book of Essays, Methuen (London, England), 1934, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1935.
  • The Well and the Shallows (essays), Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1935.
  • As I Was Saying: A Book of Essays, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1936, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1966.
  • Essays, edited by John Guest, Collins, 1939.
  • Selected Essays, edited by Dorothy Collins, Methuen (London, England), 1949.
  • Essays, edited by K. E. Whitehorn, Methuen (London, England), 1953.
  • A Handful of Authors: Essays on Books and Writers, edited by Dorothy Collins, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1953.
  • The Glass Walking-Stick and Other Essays from the "Illustrated London News," 1905-1936, edited by Dorothy Collins, Methuen (London, England), 1955.
  • Lunacy and Letters (essays), edited by Dorothy Collins, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1958, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1972.
  • The Spice of Life and Other Essays, edited by Dorothy Collins, Finlayson, 1964, Dufour Editions (Philadelphia, PA), 1966.
  • Chesterton on Shakespeare, edited by Dorothy Collins, introduction by John Sullivan, Dufour Editions (Philadelphia, PA), 1971.
  • The Apostle and the Wild Ducks and Other Essays, edited by Dorothy Collins, Elek (London, England), 1975.
  • Heretics [and] Orthodoxy, T. Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

OTHER

  • Tremendous Trifles, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1909, reprinted, Dufour Editions (Philadelphia, PA), 1968.
  • (Editor) Thackeray (selections), Bell, 1909.
  • The Ultimate Lie, privately published, 1910.
  • (Editor, with Alice Meynell) Samuel Johnson (selections), Herbert & Daniel, 1911.
  • A Chesterton Calendar, Kegan Paul, 1911 , Gordon Press (New York, NY), 1976, published as Wit and Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1911, published as Chesterton Day by Day, Kegan Paul, 1912, published as Chesterton Day by Day: The Wit and Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton, edited by Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books (Seattle, WA), 2002.
  • The Future of Religion: Mr. G. K. Chesterton's Reply to Mr. Bernard Shaw, privately published, 1911.
  • The Conversion of an Anarchist, Paget (New York, NY), 1912.
  • A Miscellany of Men, Methuen (London, England), 1912, enlarged edition, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1912, with an introduction by Dorothy E. Collins, Dufour Editions (Philadelphia, PA), 1969, reprinted, IHS Press (Norfolk, VA), 2003.
  • Magic: A Fantastic Comedy (play; first produced in London, England, 1913; produced in New York, 1917), Putnam (New York, NY), 1913.
  • Thoughts from Chesterton, edited by Elsie E. Morton, Harrap (London, England), 1913.
  • The Barbarism of Berlin, Cassell (New York, NY), 1914, published as The Appetite of Tyranny, including Letters to an Old Garibaldian, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1915.
  • London, photographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn, privately published (Minneapolis, MN), 1914.
  • Prussian versus Belgian Culture, Belgian Relief and Reconstruction Fund, 1914.
  • Letters to an Old Garibaldian, John Lane (New York, NY), 1915.
  • The So-Called Belgian Bargain, National War Aims Committee, 1915.
  • The Crimes of England, Palmer & Hayward (London, England), 1915, John Lane (New York, NY), 1916.
  • Divorce versus Democracy, Society of SS. Peter and Paul (London, England), 1916.
  • Temperance and the Great Alliance, True Temperance Association, 1916.
  • The G. K. Chesterton Calendar, edited by H. Cecil Palmer, Palmer & Hayward, 1916.
  • A Shilling for My Thoughts, edited by E. V. Lucas, Methuen (London, England), 1916.
  • A Short History of England, John Lane (New York, NY), 1917, reprinted, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 1930.
  • Lord Kitchener, privately published, 1917.
  • How to Help Annexation, Hayman Christy & Lilly, 1918.
  • Irish Impressions, Collins (London, England), 1919, John Lane (New York, NY), 1920, reprinted, IHS Press (Norfolk, Va), 2002.
  • (Editor, with Holbrook Jackson and R. Brimley Johnson) Charles Dickens, The Personal History of David Copperfield, C. Chivers (London, England), 1919.
  • The Superstition of Divorce, John Lane (New York, NY), 1920.
  • The New Jerusalem, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1920, Doran (New York, NY), 1921.
  • What I Saw in America, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1922, with an introduction by George Harmon Knoles, Da Capo Press (New York, NY), 1968.
  • Fancies versus Fads, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1923.
  • St. Francis of Assisi (biography), Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1923, Doran (New York, NY), 1924.
  • The End of the Roman Road: A Pageant of Wayfarers, illustrated by T. H. Robinson, preface by A. St. John Adcock, Classic Press (London, England), 1924.
  • The Superstitions of the Sceptic (lecture), Herder (London, England), 1925.
  • A Gleaming Cohort, Being Selections from the Works of G. K. Chesterton, edited by E. V. Lucas, Methuen (London, England), 1926.
  • (Editor) Essays by Divers Hands 6, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1926.
  • The Outline of Sanity, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1926, reprinted, IHS Press (Norfolk, VA), 2001.
  • The Catholic Church and Conversion, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1926.
  • Selected Works, nine volumes, Methuen (London, England), 1926.
  • Social Reform versus Birth Control, Simpkin Marshall, 1927.
  • The Judgement of Dr. Johnson: A Comedy in Three Acts (play; first produced in London, England, 1932), Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1927.
  • Culture and the Coming Peril (lecture), University of London Press (London, England), 1927.
  • (With George Bernard Shaw) Do We Agree? A Debate between G. K. Chesterton and Bernard Shaw, with Hilaire Belloc in the Chair, Mitchell (Hartford, CT), 1928, R. West (Philadelphia, PA), 1977.
  • A Chesterton Catholic Anthology, edited by Patrick Braybrooke, Kenedy, 1928.
  • The Thing, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1929 , 1957, published as The Thing: Why I Am a Catholic, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1930.
  • G. K. C. As M. C., Being a Collection of Thirty-seven Introductions,selected and edited by J. P. de Foneska, Methuen (London, England), 1929, reprinted, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1967.
  • The Turkey and the Turk, St. Dominic's Press, 1930.
  • At the Sign of the World's End, Harvest Press, 1930.
  • The Resurrection of Rome, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1930.
  • (With E. Haldeman-Julius) Is There a Return to Religion?, Haldeman-Julius, 1931.
  • (Contributor) The Floating Admiral, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1931, Doubleday, Doran (New York, NY), 1932, with an introduction by Christianna Brand, Gregg Press (Boston, MA), 1979.
  • Christendom in Dublin, Sheed & Ward (London, England), 1932, (New York, NY), 1933.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas (biography), Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1933, with an introduction by Ralph McInerny and Joseph Pearce, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA), 2002.
  • G. K. Chesterton (selected humor), edited by E. V. Knox, Methuen (London, England), 1933, published as Running after One's Hat and Other Whimsies, McBride, 1933.
  • (Editor) G. K.'s (miscellany from G. K.'s Weekly), Rich & Cowan, 1934.
  • Explaining the English, British Council, 1935.
  • Stories, Essays, and Poems, Dent (London, England), 1935, Dutton (New York, NY), 1957.
  • Autobiography, Hutchinson (London, England), 1936, with an introduction by Anthony Burgess, 1969 , published as The Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1936.
  • The Man Who Was Chesterton: The Best Essays, Stories, Poems and Other Writings of G. K. Chesterton, compiled and edited by Raymond T. Bond, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1937, reprinted, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1970.
  • (Self-illustrated) The Coloured Lands, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1938.
  • The End of the Armistice, compiled by F. J. Sheed, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1940, reprinted, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1970.
  • (Contributor) Ellery Queen, editor, To the Queen's Taste, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1946.
  • The Common Man, compiled by F. J. Sheed, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1950.
  • The Surprise (play; first produced in Hull, England, 1953), preface by Dorothy L. Sayers, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1952.
  • G. K. Chesterton: An Anthology, edited and with an introduction by D. B. Wyndham Lewis, Oxford University Press, 1957.
  • Essays and Poems, edited by Wilfrid Sheed, Penguin Books (Harmondsworth, England), 1958.
  • Where All Roads Lead, Catholic Truth Society, 1961.
  • The Man Who Was Orthodox: A Selection from the Uncollected Writings of G. K. Chesterton, edited by A. L. Maycock, Dobson (London, England), 1963.
  • G. K. Chesterton: A Selection from His Non-Fictional Prose, edited by W. H. Auden, Faber (London, England), 1970.
  • The Spirit of Christmas: Stories, Poems, Essays, edited by Marie Smith, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1985.
  • 1986-2001 The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA).
  • G. K.'s Weekly: A Sampler, edited by Lyle W. Dorsett, Loyola University Press, 1986.
  • Collected Nonsense and Light Verse, edited by Marie Smith, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1987.
  • As I Was Saying... : A Chesterton Reader, edited by Robert Knille, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1987.
  • The Essential G. K. Chesterton, edited by P. J. Kavanagh, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1987.
  • More Quotable Chesterton: A Topical Compilation of the Wit, Wisdom, and Satire of G. K. Chesterton, edited by George J. Marlin, Richard P. Rabatin, and John L. Swan, with a foreword by George William Rutler, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA), 1988.
  • Brave New Family: G. K. Chesterton on Men and Women, Children, Sex, Divorce, Marriage and the Family, edited and with an introduction by Alvaro de Silva, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, CA), 1990.
  • On Lying in Bed and Other Essays, edited and with an introduction by Alberto Manguel, Bayeux Arts (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2000.
  • G. K. Chesterton's Sherlock Holmes: Original Illustrations: A Facsimile of the Original Unpublished Drawings, edited and with an introduction by Steven Doyle, Baker Street Irregulars (New York, NY), 2003.
  • Essential Writings, edited by William Griffin, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 2003.

Contributor to London Daily News, 1901-13, Illustrated London News, 1905-36, and London Daily Herald, 1913-14. Editor, The Debater (St. Paul's School publication), 1891-93; coeditor, Eye Witness, 1911-12; editor, New Witness, 1912-23; editor, G. K.'s Weekly, 1925-36. Editor, with H. Jackson and R. B. Johnson, "Readers' Classics" series, 1922. Illustrator of works, including Great Inquiry, by Hilaire Belloc, 1903; Emmanuel Burden, Merchant, of Thames St., in the City of London, Exporter of Hardware, by Hilaire Belloc, 1904; Missing Masterpiece, by Belloc, 1929; Clerihews Complete, by E. C. Bentley, 1951; Complete Clerihews of E. Clerihew Bentley, 1981; and First Clerihews, 1982. Many of Chesterton's papers are held in the Robert John Bayer Memorial Chesterton Collection, John Carroll University Library, Cleveland, Ohio; other materials are at Columbia University, Marquette University, and the British Library.

Further Reading

FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

BOOKS

  • Barker, Dudley, G. K. Chesterton: A Biography, Stein & Day, 1973.
  • Belloc, Hilaire, The Place of Gilbert Chesterton in English Letters, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1940.
  • Bogaerts, Anthony Mattheus Adrianus, Chesterton and the Victorian Age, Rozenbeek en Venemans, 1940.
  • Boyd, Ian, The Novels of G. K. Chesterton: A Study in Art and Propaganda, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1975.
  • Canovan, Margaret, G. K. Chesterton: Radical Populist, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1977.
  • Carol, Sister M., G. K. Chesterton: The Dynamic Classicist, Morilal Banarsidass, 1971.
  • Chesterton, Cecil, Gilbert K. Chesterton: A Criticism, John Lane (New York, NY), 1909.
  • Chesterton, G. K., Autobiography, Hutchinson (London, England), 1936, published as The Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1936.
  • Clemens, Cyril, Chesterton As Seen by His Contemporaries, Mark Twain Society, 1939.
  • Clipper, Lawrence J., G. K. Chesterton, Twayne, 1974.
  • Coates, John, Chesterton and the Edwardian Cultural Crisis, Hull University Press, 1984.
  • Concise Dictionary of British Literary Biography, Volume 6: Modern Writers, 1914-1945, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1991.
  • Conlon, D. J., editor, G. K. Chesterton: A Half Century of Views, Oxford University Press, 1987.
  • Dale, Alzina Stone, The Outline of Sanity: A Life of G. K. Chesterton, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1982.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 10: Modern British Dramatists, 1900-1945, 1982, Volume 19: British Poets, 1880-1914, 1983, Volume 34: British Novelists, 1890-1929: Traditionalists, 1985, Volume 70: British Mystery Writers, 1860-1919, 1988, Volume 98: Modern British Essaysts, First Series, 1990, Volume 149: Late Nineteenth-and Early Twentieth-Century British Literary Biographers, 1995, Volume 178: British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers before World War I, 1997.
  • Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition, seventeen volumes, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
  • Fagerberg, David W., The Size of Chesterton's Catholicism, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1998.
  • Hollis, Christopher, The Mind of Chesterton, Hollis & Carter, 1970.
  • Hunter, Lynette, G. K. Chesterton: Explorations in Allegory, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1979.
  • Kenner, Hugh,Paradox in Chesterton, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1947.
  • Knox, Ronald, editor and author of introduction, Father Brown: Selected Stories by G. K. Chesterton, Oxford University Press, 1955.
  • O'Connor, John, Father Brown on Chesterton, Muller/Burns, Oates, 1937.
  • Peters, Thomas C., Battling for the Modern Mind: A Beginner's Chesterton, CPH (St. Louis. MO), 1994.
  • Rauch, Rufus William, A Chesterton Celebration, Notre Dame University Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1983.
  • Reference Guide to English Literature, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991.
  • Routley, Eric, The Puritan Pleasures of the Detective Story: A Personal Monograph, Gollancz (London, England), 1972.
  • St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
  • St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
  • Short Story Criticism, Volume 1, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.
  • Sprug, Joseph W., editor, An Index to G. K. Chesterton, Catholic University of America Press, 1966.
  • Sullivan, John, G. K. Chesterton: A Bibliography, University of London Press (London, England), 1958.
  • Sullivan, John, Chesterton Continued: A Bibliographic Supplement, University of London Press (London, England), 1968.
  • Tadie, Andrew A. and Michael H. MacDonald, Permanent Things: Toward the Recovery of a More Human Scale at the End of the Twentieth Century, William B. Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1995.
  • Titterton, W. R., G. K. Chesterton: A Portrait, Organ, 1936.
  • Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Volume 6, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1982.
  • Ward, Maisie, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Sheed & Ward (New York, NY), 1943.
  • Winks, Robin W., editor, Mystery and Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection, and Espionage, two volumes, Scribner (New York, NY), 1998.

PERIODICALS

  • Chesterton Review, fall/winter, 1974--.
  • Christian History, August, 2002, special issue devoted to Chesterton.
  • Commonweal, August 14, 1992, A. W. R. Sipe and B. C. Lamb, "Chesterton's Brown and Greeley's Blackie: Two Very Different Detectives," pp. 18-21.
  • English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, fall, 2002, Mark Knight, review of Basil Howe, pp. 464-467.
  • National Review, September 6, 1985, M. D. Aeschliman, review of As I Was Saying: A Chesterton Reader, pp. 54-55; August 14, 1987, James E. Person, Jr., review of Daylight and Nightmare: Uncollected Stories and Fables, p. 53.
  • Renascence, spring, 2001, Joseph Schwartz, "Chesterton on the Idea of Christian Tragedy," p. 227.
  • Spectator, June 30, 2001, P. J. Kavanagh, review of Basil Howe, p. 45.
  • Times Literary Supplement, December 25-31, 1987.

ONLINE

  • American Chesterton Society Web site, http://www.chesterton.org/ (April 22, 2004).*

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Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

LIFE SPAN 1874–1936

G. K. Chesterton

Biography

G. K. Chesterton was one of the dominating figures of the London literary scene in the early twentieth century. Not only did he get into lively discussions with anyone who would debate him, including his friend, frequent verbal sparring partner, and noted Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, but he wrote about seemingly every topic, in every genre, from journalism to plays, poetry to crime novels. "He said something about . . .

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