G. K. Chesterton is remembered as a brilliant creator of nonsense and satirical verse, author of the Father Brown stories and the innovative novel, The Man who was Thursday, and yet today he is not counted among the major English novelists and poets. However, this major new biography argues that Chesterton should be seen as the successor of the great Victorian prose writers, Carlyle, Arnold, Ruskin, and above all Newman.
Chesterton's achievement as one of the great English literary critics has not hitherto been fully recognized, perhaps because his best literary criticism is of prose rather than poetry. Ian Ker remedies this neglect, paying particular attention to Chesterton's writings on the Victorians, especially Dickens. As a social and political thinker, Chesterton is contrasted here with contemporary intellectuals like Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells in his championing of democracy and the masses.
Pre-eminently a controversialist, as revealed in his prolific journalistic output, he became a formidable apologist for Christianity and Catholicism, as well as a powerful satirist of anti-Catholicism.
This full-length life of G. K. Chesterton is the first comprehensive biography of both the man and the writer. It draws on many unpublished letters and papers to evoke Chesterton's joyful humour, his humility and affinity to the common man, and his love of the ordinary things of life.
Ian Ker has taught both English literature and theology in universities in the United States and Britain, where he currently teaches in the Oxford theology faculty. He is the author and editor of more than twenty books on Newman, including John Henry Newman: A Biography (1988), as well as the author of The Catholic Revival in English Literature, 1845-1961 (2003).
1. The Early Years ; 2. Publishing and Engagement ; 3. Marriage and Fame ; 4. Controversy ; 5. Dickens ; 6. Orthodoxy ; 7. Shaw and Beaconsfield ; 8. Father Brown and the Marconi Scandal ; 9. The Victorian Compromise and Illness ; 10. War and Travel ; 11. America and Conversation ; 12. The Everlasting Man ; 13. Distributism and Apologetics ; 14. Rome and America Again ; 15. The Last Years