English novelist, essayist, and poet. He wrote numerous short stories featuring a Catholic priest, Father Brown, who solves crimes by drawing on his knowledge of human nature. Other novels include the fantasy The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904) and The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), a deeply emotional allegory about the problem of evil.
He was also active as a political essayist, and with the writer Hilaire Belloc advocated a revolt against capitalism in the direction opposite to socialism by strengthening the ‘small man’ and discouraging big business. He was president of the ‘Distributist League’, of which the magazine GK's Weekly (1925) was (more or less) the organ.
Chesterton was born in London. He studied art at the Slade School, but turned to journalism, writing for a great variety of periodicals. He contributed regularly to the Daily News, and for over 30 years wrote a column for the Illustrated London News. He was converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922, and wrote several religious works, including St Francis of Assisi (1923) and Catholic Essays (1929).
His style is characterized by witty and paradoxical epigrams, which can be superficial but also often point to deeper insights. Although he first achieved notice for a critical work, Browning (1903), his criticism has been thought unsubstantial; Charles Dickens (1906) and The Victorian Age in Literature (1913) have, however, retained their value.
Among Chesterton's other works are Poems (1915), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1922), William Cobbett (1925), Chaucer (1932), Collected Poems (revised edition 1933), and his Autobiography (1936).
Chesterton, G(ilbert) K(eith)
American Chesterton Society
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