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One Of England’s Finest Essayists – GK Chesterton – Born Today

Perhaps he’s best known today for the character Father Brown, given the TV series. But at the time GK Chesterton was greatly admired as an essayist. Little short things for the newspapers, also rather more weighty matters.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936), was an English writer,[2] poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic. Chesterton is often referred to as the “prince of paradox”.[3] Time magazine has observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.”[4]

Chesterton is well known for his fictional priest-detective Father Brown,[5] and for his reasoned apologetics.

My favourites are the little short newspaper pieces. Miles Kington being a later exponent of much the same style of whimsy. Given that he’s out of copyright more Chesterton than you can shake a stick at is easily available: Delphi Complete Works of G. K. Chesterton (Illustrated)

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Dodgy Geezer
Dodgy Geezer
4 years ago

Perhaps he’s best known today for the character Father Brown, given the TV series…. Given that the TV series has nothing in common with the books apart from the name of the leading character, I would be unhappy if GKC were remembered as being associated with it in any way. In an educated world, he would be remembered as the proponent of ‘Chesterton’s Fence’, or the author of ‘The Man who was Thursday’. Perhaps the ‘Napoleon of Notting Hill’ is also worth a mention, since it had such an impact on the struggle for Irish independence… Still, at least there… Read more »

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
4 years ago
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer

Agreed re the disconnect between the TV and print versions. But (IMO) though the latter may have been good for its era, time has not treated it well.

Agreed also re Roger Bacon. Blish’s ‘invented biography’ (since actual details of his life are few) Doctor Mirabilis is a good read.

Dodgy Geezer
Dodgy Geezer
4 years ago
Reply to  Quentin Vole

Quite true. His Opus Majus is also a good read – here is the 1733 Bowyer edition…


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