A Starter Course on G.K. Chesterton
Why the Interest?
My father was an English major at college at the time that I was
learning to read. He gave me a reading list, and no, Chesterton
wasn't on it, though it seems like everyone else was: Swift, Orwell,
Wells, Verne, Defoe, etc. I read everything, although a lot of it
I didn't understand. Then when I was thirteen or so I checked out
"The Father Brown Omnibus" one day -- and I was hooked. I'd never
read anything like it. I had never read a writer whose writing made me
think, "This person knows how to write!" Chesterton was that first
I knew nothing about Catholics, or even much
about late 19th century England, but loved Chesterton's writing.
I have read and re-read the Father Brown stories over the years.
It was over twenty years before I got around to reading GKC's most
famous book, _The Man Who Was Thursday_. Then later I went on to read
his non-fiction--which is often just as funny and insightful. The
local libraries often have copies of Chesterton's works that are over
fifty years old -- and still being checked out.
Chesterton also wrote a column for the Illustrated London News from
1905 until 1936 and I've been reading that for the past four years.
That's there I get most of the quotes that I link to below.
It gives a different feel to that section of world history.
Brief bio sketch
Gilbert Keith ("G.K.") Chesterton was born on May 29th, 1874 on
Campden Hill, Kensington (which I gather is in England somewhere).
And he wrote, and wrote, and wrote ... cranking out newspaper
columns, books, poetry, reviews, etc. At some point (Sunday, July
30, 1922 if you're curious) he converted from the Anglican Church
to the Roman Catholic Church, which really ticked off his good
friend, George Bernard Shaw. He died on June 14th of 1936, a Tuesday.
He's best known for three types of work:
- The Father Brown series, a Roman Catholic cleric as a detective
who tried to understand the psychology behind the mystery.
- The Man Who Was Thursday, a unique book that I won't spoil here.
- Orthodoxy and other writings about the Roman Catholic Church.
Web Resources and Chesterton:
- Martin Ward's
includes links to some of Chesterton's work that is available on the
- Mary De Marco's GKC
Page includes information about distributivism, his political
- The American Chesterton Society's newly revised home
page includes articles from "Generally Speaking", their monthly
newsletter. This page was mentioned in the last paragraph of the
G. K. Wired article in the January 1997 issue.
- Gilbert!, a
magazine about Chesterton, new web address
- Chesterton Quote
of the Week and other Information
How to Get His Books
It's possible to find several of Chesterton's in the fiction or
classics section of the bookstore or the library. "The Father Brown
Omnibus" is pretty commonly available.
Ignatius Press is trying to get
all of Chesterton's works into print. Over the past few years they've
been collecting his London Illustrated News columns. They take credit
card orders (min. of $20) at 1-800-651-1531 (through a service
bureau.) The address is
Ignatius Press, Post Office Box 1339, Fort Collins, CO 80522, USA
if you want a catalog ($1, I think).
More Chesterton [1926-1928]
It is the beginning of all true criticism of our time to realize that
it has really nothing to say, at the very moment when it has invented
so tremendous a trumpet for saying it. [in 1923]
dhawk's web page
/ part of the River community / firstname.lastname@example.org