Gilbert K. Chesterton Biography

(One of the Greatest Writers of the 20th Century Best Known as the 'Prince of Paradox')

Birthday: May 29, 1874 (Gemini)

Born In: Kensington, London, United Kingdom

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, better known as G. K. Chesterton, was a prominent literary figure of the 20th century London. He was a highly versatile individual who was as respected as a writer as he was for being an orator and Christian apologist. His works covered a wide range of genres and he could write anything from poetry to drama, from biographies to crime novels, and about almost all imaginable topics. He was a religious man who was drawn closer to religion with age and eventually converted to Roman Catholicism. As a Christian, he wrote several apologies, the best known of which were ‘Orthodoxy’ and ‘The Everlasting Man’. He had a unique writing style characterized by the use of popular proverbs and allegories which he would twist according to his requirements, thus earning him the nickname ‘prince of paradox’. An outspoken man and a political thinker, he was apprehensive about both Progressivism and Conservatism. He never finished college and began his career as a manuscript reader for a publisher. Gradually he moved on to writing art criticisms and soon expanded his repertoire to include poetry, essays, articles and stories. He became well known as a writer of detective novels and as the creator of the fictional detective priest, Father Brown.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In May

Also Known As: Gilbert Keith Chesterton, G. K. Chesterton

Died At Age: 62


Spouse/Ex-: Frances Blog (m. 1901–1936)

siblings: Cecil Chesterton

Born Country: England

Poets Novelists

Died on: June 14, 1936

place of death: Beaconsfield, England, United Kingdom

City: London, England

Cause of Death: Congestive Heart Failure

Notable Alumni: Slade School Of Art

More Facts

education: University College London, Slade School Of Art

Childhood & Early Life
He was born in London and was sent to St. Paul’s School. He was artistically inclined from a young age and also loved literature.
He attended the Slade School of Art with the aim of pursuing a career as an illustrator; he also took classes in literature. However, he did not graduate.
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After quitting college he took up a job as a manuscript reader with the publisher Redway and T. Fisher Unwin in 1896. He worked there till 1902 and during this time he also started working as a freelance journalist and art critic.
His first collection of poems, ‘Greybeards At Play’ was published in 1900. It was followed by two literary biographies, ‘Robert Browning’ in 1903 and ‘Charles Dickens’ in 1906.
He began writing a weekly opinion column for the ‘Daily News’ in 1902 which was followed by a weekly column in ‘The Illustrated London News’ in 1905. He continued writing the column for the next 30 years.
His novel ‘The Napoleon of Notting Hill’ was published in 1904. The novel was set in future and presented an alternative reality of the author’s own period with no major changes to the technology or society. This novel is credited to have inspired Michael Collins to lead a movement for Irish Independence.
In 1908, his novel ‘The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare’ was published. It is often regarded as a metaphysical thriller. Like most of his novels, it contains elements of Christian allegory.
He wrote the Christian apology, ‘Orthodoxy’ in 1908 which went on to become a class apology. He presented an original view of the Christian faith in this work and explained his personal views on how he came to believe in it.
He wrote a poem, ‘The Ballad of the White Horse’ which was published in 1911. It was about the idealized exploits of the King Alfred the Great, and was written in a ballad format. It is considered to be a traditional epic poem.
He created the fictional detective, priest Father Brown who appeared in 51 of his short stories, most of which were compiled in his collections of short stories: ‘The Innocence of Father Brown’ (1911), ‘The Wisdom of Father Brown’ (1914), ‘The Incredulity of Father Brown’ (1926), ‘The Secret of Father Brown’ (1927), and ‘The Scandal of Father Brown’ (1935).
He was one of the biggest critics of eugenics, a movement which had become popular during the early 1900s. He presented his arguments against the movement in his 1922 book, ‘Eugenics and Other Evils’.
In 1925, his Christian apologetics, ‘The Everlasting Man’ was published. He attempted to illustrate the spiritual journey of humanity in the Western civilization in this book. Writer C. S. Lewis who was initially an atheist converted to Christianity after reading this book.
Due to his tremendous popularity, BBC invited him to do a series of radio talks in 1931. He delivered over 40 talks per year from 1932 until his death. His talks were very popular because they were informal and intimate in nature.
Major Works
This prolific writer wrote over 80 books, 200 short stories and an astounding 4,000 essays during his lifetime. A devout Christian, he was very famous for his reasonable apologies and as a writer, he was best known for his detective stories based on the character, Father Brown.
Awards & Achievements
He was invested by Pope Pius XI as Knight Commander with Star of the Papal Order of St. Gregory the Great towards the end of his life.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Frances Blogg in 1901. The couple shared a long and happy marriage that lasted till his death. He was a very absent minded and clumsy man and his wife faithfully took care of him all his life.
He died of congestive heart failure in 1936.
This great author was a good friend of playwright George Bernard Shaw and the two had acted in a cowboy movie that was never released.
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