Gilbert Keith Chesterton
- June 14
), English writer.
Born in Campden Hill[?], Kensington, London, Chesterton was educated at St. Paul's, and later went to Art School to become an illustrator. In 1900, Chesterton was asked to write a few magazine articles on art criticism, which sparked his interest in writing. He went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. Chesterton's writings displayed a wit and sense of humor that is unusual even today, while often time making extremely serious comments on the world, government, politics, economics, philosophy, theology, or a hundred other topics.
Chesterton wrote 100 books, several hundred poems, 200 short stories, 4000 essays and a few plays. He was a columnist for the Daily News, Illustrated London News and his own paper, G.K's Weekly. He was a literary and social critic, historian, playwright, novelist, Catholic Christian theologian, debater and mystery writer. His most well-known character is the priest-detective Father Brown[?], although arguably his most well-known novel The Man Who Was Thursday[?] does not concern him at all.
Chesterton was a large man, standing 6 feet 4 inches and weighing in at around 300 pounds. Chesterton had a unique look, usually wearing a cape and a crumpled hat, with a swordstick in hand, and usually a cigar hanging out of his mouth. Chesterton rarely remembered where he was supposed to be going and would even miss the train that was supposed to take him there. It was not uncommon for Chesterton to phone his wife, Frances Blogg, whom he married in 1901, from some distant (and incorrect) location to ask her where he was supposed to be going.
Chesterton loved to debate, often publicly debating friends like George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and Clarence Darrow. Chesterton was usually considered the winner.
- Chesterton's The Everlasting Man, led a young atheist named C. S. Lewis to become a Christian.
- Chesterton's Orthodoxy has become a religious classic.
- An essay that Chesterton wrote for the Illustrated London News inspired Mohandas Gandhi to lead the movement to end British colonial rule in India.
- Chesterton's novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, inspired Michael Collins to lead a movement for Irish Independence.
- Chesterton's writings have been praised by authors like Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene, Frederick Buechner, Evelyn Waugh, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Karel Capek, Marshall McLuhan, Paul Claudel, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Sigrid Undset, Ronald Knox, C. S. Lewis, Kingsley Amis, W. H. Auden, Anthony Burgess, E. F. Schumacher[?], Neil Gaiman, Orson Welles and others.
- Chesterton's work has inspired lyricists like Daniel Amos' Terry Scott Taylor from the 1970s to the 2000s. Daniel Amos mentioned Chesterton by name in the title track from 2001's Mr. Buechner's Dream.
Some conservatives today have been influenced by his support for distributism.]
- "To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it." (A Short History of England)
- "Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before." (Tremendous Trifles)
- "A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it." (Everlasting Man, 1925)
- "Many clever men like you have trusted to civilisation. Many clever Babylonians, many clever Egyptians, many clever men at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is flagrant with the failures of civilisation, what there is particularly immortal about yours?"
- "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
- "When learned men begin to use their reason, then I generally discover that they haven't got any." (ILN 11-7-08)
- "For fear of the newspapers politicians are dull, and at last they are too dull even for the newspapers." (All Things Considered, 1908)
- "When a politician is in opposition he is an expert on the means to some end; and when he is in office he is an expert on the obstacles to it." (ILN, 4/6/18)
- "It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." (The Cleveland Press, 3/1/21)
- "All government is an ugly necessity." (A Short History of England)
- "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." (ILN, 4/19/30)
- "Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." (Charles II Twelve Types)
- "If there were no God, there would be no atheists." (Where All Roads Lead, 1922)
- "These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.", (ILN 8-11-28)
- "Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.", (ILN, 10/23/09)
- "The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people." (ILN, 7/16/10)
- "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.", (What's Wrong With The World, 1910)
e-texts of some of Gilbert Keith Chesterton's works:
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