"The Watkin Path: An Approach to Belief" is a panorama of twentieth-century social and political history seen through the life of E. I. Watkin (1888-1981). The interplay of love, friction, war, politics and money, together with a relentless search for religious truth, makes this book read more like a novel than a biography. Watkin was the only child of Emmeline Paxton Ingram, a daughter of Herbert Ingram, the founder of the Illustrated London News. His father was the nephew of Sir Edward Watkin, the Liberal MP and railway magnate, who started to build the first Channel Tunnel and later a tower to rival Eiffels where Wembley Stadium now stands. At birth Watkin was handed over to his Ingram grandmother, an old lady who lived alone in a mansion by the river at Walton-on-Thames. He met few other children, and his strange childhood may account for some of his eccentricities. Watkin became a Roman Catholic when he was at Oxford. His experience as one of the inner circle of Catholic writers is revealing: He was allowed to publish his books on philosophy, history or literature, but when it came to the interpretation of the Catholic faith he was persistently harassed by the censors.
Although Watkin was one of the foremost English precursors of the Second Vatican Council, he deeply deplored some of its consequences. His extraordinary life experiences were many and varied: from sitting on Mrs Gladstones lap at the ceremonial opening of the Watkin Path up Snowdon, to falling instantly in love with Helena Shepheard at a party in 1912, at which point he stopped his diary writing. The story of that marriage, and the Watkin familys engagement with politicians and theologians about the political and social issues of the time, make for a truly fascinating biography of a most extraordinary man.