Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Excerpt

The material for this book falls roughly into two parts: spoken and written. Gilbert Chesterton was not an old man when he died and many of his friends and contemporaries have told me incidents and recalled sayings right back to his early boyhood. This part of the material has been unusually rich and copious so that I have been able to get a clearer picture of the boy and the young man than is usually granted to the biographer.

The book has been in the making for six years and in three countries. Several times I laid it aside for some months so as to be able to get a fresh view of it. I talked to all sorts of people, heard all sorts of ideas, saw my subject from every side; I went to Paris to see one old friend, to Indiana to see others, met for the first time in lengthy talk Maurice Baring, H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw, went to Kingsland to see Mr. Belloc; gathered Gilbert's boyhood friends of the Junior Debating Club in London, and visited "Father Brown" among his Yorkshire moors.

Armed with a notebook, I tried to miss none who had known Gilbert well, especially in his youth: E. C. Bentley, Lucian Oldershaw, Lawrence Solomon, Edward Fordham. I had ten long letters from Annie Firmin, my most valuable witness as to Gilbert's childhood. For information on the next period of his life, I talked to Monsignor O'Connor, to Hilaire Belloc, Maurice Baring, Charles Somers Cocks, F. Y. Eccles and others, besides being able to draw on my own memories. Frances I had talked with on and off about their early married years ever since I had first known them, but she was, alas, too ill and consequently too emotionally unstrung during the last months for me to ask her all the questions springing in my mind. "Tell Maisie," she said to Dorothy Collins, "not to talk to me about Gilbert. It makes me cry."

For the time at Beaconsfield, out of a host of friends the most valuable were Dr. Pocock and Dr. Bakewell. Among priests . . .

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