The Goodness and Greatness of G.K. Chesterton

Though the England of his time was famous for its eccentrics, one man in particular captured the attention of satirists and the hearts and smiles of the men and women of that island nation.Writer G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936) was a giant of a man for his time, standing 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing around 300 pounds.

was known for wearing a cloak and a broad-brimmed hat, giving him the appearance of a man casting about for adventures. He was disheveled, absent-minded, and frequently arrived late or not at all at his speaking engagements.

Once when he forgot where he was supposed to deliver a lecture, he famously sent his wife, Frances, a telegram: “Am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?” Realizing he had already missed his lecture, his wife telegraphed back: “Home.”In his “Autobiography,” Chesterton wrote of buying a glass of milk and a revolver on his wedding day:

“Some have seen these as singular wedding presents for a bridegroom to give to himself, and if the bride had known less of him, I suppose she might have fancied that he was a suicide or a murderer, or worst of all, a teetotaller.”

That last qualification made me burst out laughing when I first read it. He went on to say, tongue-in-cheek, that he purchased the revolver to protect his bride from “the pirates doubtless infesting the Norfolk Broads.”This quirky romantic was also one of the most popular and most talented writers of his time. 

NOTE:Gilbert Keith was a convert to the Catholic faith and his wife Frances BLOG (of all names)converted later on her own. 

G.K. Chesterton, a literary heavy weight in more ways than one, took issue with [H.G.]Wells. He published his response in 1925 under the title The Everlasting Man. Chesterton opens the book with these words: “There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place.”

C.S. Lewis, as an atheist, took the latter route, having walked round the whole world; Chesterton helped lead him home. Lewis recalls the impact of reading The Everlasting Man in Surprised by Joy: “In reading Chesterton … I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.” If Lewis wished to remain an atheist, he should have left Chesterton’s books alone. I, for one, am thankful that he did not.

Among the multiple influences that shaped Lewis’ conversion to Christianity, Chesterton looms large. In fact, in response to one writer in 1947 who asked for an apologetics resource, Lewis wrote: “As for books, the very best popular defense of the full Christian position I know is G.K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man.” While Chesterton’s impact was lasting, it was initially met with bewilderment:

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