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Summary Article: Belloc, (Joseph) Hilaire (René Pierre) (1870–1953) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

French-born British writer. He wrote nonsense verse for children, including The Bad Child's Book of Beasts (1896) and Cautionary Tales for Children (1907). Belloc also wrote historical, biographical, travel, and religious books (he was a devout Catholic). With G K Chesterton, he advocated a return to the late medieval guild system of commercial association in place of capitalism or socialism.

Belloc was born in St-Cloud on the outskirts of Paris, and educated at Oxford University. He became a British subject in 1902. In 1906 he was elected Liberal member of Parliament for South Salford, but he became disillusioned with English politics and retired from Parliament in 1910.

He wrote some 16 novels, nearly all of which were illustrated by G K Chesterton. As an essayist he has an engaging style, and the easy variety of his choice of subject is shown in ‘On Nothing’ (1908), ‘On Everything’ (1909), ‘On Something’ (1911), and ‘This and That and the Other’ (1913).

His historical and biographical works were written from the point of view of a Catholic controversialist, and he had a European perspective on English history. His main historical works include History of England, 1688–1910 (1914), The Last Days of the French Monarchy (1916), Europe and the Faith (1920), and A Shorter History of England (1934).

Belloc also wrote a number of books that sprang from his enthusiasm for travel and his love of places. The Path to Rome (1902) is a walker's classic, describing a journey by road from the north of France through Switzerland to Rome. Among his writings on contemporary politics are The Party System (1911), with Cecil Chesterton (1879–1918), and The Servile State (1912), opposing the growing size and influence of the British state in the wake of ‘new liberalism’.

His first financial success was in the field of children's books with The Bad Child's Book of Beasts (1896), followed by More Beasts for Worse Children (1897), Cautionary Tales for Children, and New Cautionary Tales (1930). Belloc also wrote both serious and light verse.

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Belloc, (Joseph) Hilaire (René Pierre)

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