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Gilbert Keith Chesterton   By: (1889-1975)

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E text prepared by David McClamrock

Transcriber's note

This electronic edition is intended to contain the complete, unaltered text of the first published edition of Gilbert Keith Chesterton by Maisie Ward (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1943), with the following exceptions:

The index, and a few other references to page numbers that do not exist in this edition, have been omitted.

Italics are represented by underscores at the beginning and end, like this .

Footnotes have been placed directly below the paragraph referring to them and enclosed in brackets.

[ Like this.]

Any other deviations from the text of the first edition may be regarded as defects and attributed to the transcriber.





Introduction: Chiefly Concerning Sources


I Background for Gilbert Keith Chesterton II Childhood III School Days IV Art Schools and University College V The Notebook VI Towards a Career VII Incipit Vita Nova VIII To Frances IX A Long Engagement X Who is G.K.C.? XI Married Life in London XII Clearing the Ground for Orthodoxy XIII Orthodoxy XIV Bernard Shaw XV From Battersea to Beaconsfield XVI A Circle of Friends XVII The Disillusioned Liberal XVIII The Eye Witness XIX Marconi XX The Eve of the War (1911 1915) XXI The War Years XXII After the Armistice XXIII Rome via Jerusalem XXIV Completion XXV The Reluctant Editor (1925 1930) XXVI The Distributist League and Distributism XXVII Silver Wedding XXVIII Columbus XXIX The Soft Answer XXX Our Lady's Tumbler XXXI The Living Voice XXXII Last Days


Appendix A An Earlier Chesterton Appendix B Prize Poem Written at St. Paul's Appendix C The Chestertons



Chiefly Concerning Sources

THE MATERIAL FOR this book falls roughly into two parts: spoken and written. Gilbert Chesterton was not an old man when he died and many of his friends and contemporaries have told me incidents and recalled sayings right back to his early boyhood. This part of the material has been unusually rich and copious so that I could get a clearer picture of the boy and the young man than is usually granted to the biographer.

The book has been in the making for six years and in three countries. Several times I hid it aside for some months so as to be able to get a fresh view of it. I talked to all sorts of people, heard all sorts of ideas, saw my subject from every side; I went to Paris to see one old friend, to Indiana to see others, met for the first time in lengthy talk Maurice Baring, H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw; went to Kingsland to see Mr. Belloc; gathered Gilbert's boyhood friends of the Junior Debating Club in London and visited "Father Brown" among his Yorkshire moors.

Armed with a notebook, I tried to miss none who had known Gilbert well, especially in his youth: E. C. Bentley, Lucian Oldershaw, Lawrence Solomon, Edward Fordham. I had ten long letters from Annie Firmin, my most valuable witness as to Gilbert's childhood. For information on the next period of his life, I talked to Monsignor O'Connor, to Hilaire Belloc, Maurice Baring, Charles Somers Cocks, F. Y. Eccles and others, besides being now able to draw on my own memories. Frances I had talked with on and off about their early married years ever since I had first known them, but she was, alas, too ill and consequently too emotionally unstrung during the last months for me to ask her all the questions springing in my mind. "Tell Maisie," she said to Dorothy Collins, "not to talk to me about Gilbert. It makes me cry."

For the time at Beaconsfield, out of a host of friends the most valuable were Dr. Pocock and Dr. Bakewell. Among priests, Monsignors O'Connor and Ronald Knox, Fathers Vincent McNabb, O.P. and Ignatius Rice, O.S.B. were especially intimate... Continue reading book >>

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