What is GK Chesterton known for

Chesterton, Gilbert Keith

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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (born May 29, 1874 in London; died June 14, 1936 in Beaconsfield) was a British writer and journalist ?. He created the character of Father Brown ?.

Life and writing

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in London on May 29, 1874. The father was a wealthy, artistically gifted, and very educated house broker. Chesterton got his middle name Keith from the birthplace of his mother, which was not unusual at the time. He was later to work together a lot with his brother Cecil, who was five years his junior and who died in a French hospital in 1918, and the two were close friends.

Both of Chesterton's parents were Unitarians. This religious community rejects the concept of the Trinity and represents a liberal Christianity with a rather pantheistic image of God. This is interesting in that Chesterton converted to Catholicism in 1922 and his best-known figure, hobby investigator Father Brown, is a Catholic clergyman. The translator? Hanswilhelm Haefs? points out that the fascination with evil that preoccupied the young Chesterton's imagination must also be seen in this context and against the background of the rather sterile British Protestantism at the time.

Chesterton's literary talent was already evident during his school days at St. Paul's School, and in 1892 he received the Milton Prize for English Verse. He finished school with the penultimate grade and the note that his performance corresponded to that of the last grade. Then, because he had inherited his father's drawing talent, he studied art at University College London to become an illustrator, and also took literary lectures. However, he did not graduate, but began to work as a publishing editor.

From 1896 to 1902 Chesterton was part of the Redway and T. Fisher Unwin publishing house in London. A career as a freelance art and literary critic also emerged early on. In 1895 he met Frances Blogg, the daughter of a jeweler who was five years his senior, but did not marry her until 1901 for economic reasons. With her he moved to the country, to Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire. Frances helped him, the notoriously disorganized, to get a grip on his everyday life. Telegrams like this one, which he received from a book tour many years later, have survived. sent home, "Am in Market Harborough. Where should I be?" Frances' answer was, "At home."

After the turn of the century, Chesterton's literary career quickly began to pick up speed. His book debut appeared in 1900?Greybeards at Play, followed by The Defendant1901, it was translated into German in 1917, 1956 and 1991, most recently under the title Defense of nonsense. Sketches. From 1902 he wrote a weekly column? in the "Daily News", from 1905 a second in "The Illustrated London News".

Against the background of the Father Brown novels, which came out from 1911 onwards, it is easy to overlook the fact that Chesterton was an important writer regardless of that. He has published several philosophical-Christian novels and stories, volumes of poetry, plays, biographies (including on Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy?, Thomas Aquinas? And Robert Louis Stevenson?) And essays.

Appeared in 1904 The Napoleon of Notting Hill (German: The hero of Notting Hill, 1927), a fantastic novel in which Chesterton deals with the claim to validity of modern prophets (i.e. thought leaders): A child's game of the human race is called "Punish the Prophet". A year later followed Heretics (German: Heretic, 1912), a witty defense of orthodoxy and a polemic? against socialist and materialistic ideas and their representatives in poetry.

In The Man Who Was Thursday (1907, German: The man who was Thursday, 1910), the poet and philosopher Gabriel Syme fights as an agent against a group of anarchists whose members name themselves after the days of the week. In the end it turns out that all anarchists, with the exception of their leader, are police spies. The work was so successful that it soon appeared in a parody, the title of "The Man Who Was Thirsty" alluding to Chesterton's alcohol consumption.

In The Ball and the Cross (1909, German: Ball game with ideas or. Ball and cross, 2007), an atheist and a Catholic want to decide in a duel which of their world views wins. However, they are repeatedly prevented from carrying out the duel because they flee from the police and then have to deal with other ideologies on the way.

Photos: Wikipedia.org

The stories of Father Brown

Published between 1911 and 1935 The Father Brown Stories - the Stories from Father Brown. The 52 stories (if you include two frame stories?) Were first? Published? In magazines. and then in five anthologies? each published with its own title ?. (The German term "Pater Brown" was used in older translations and corrected later.)

The eponymous hero, a Catholic clergyman, works in a parish in Essex and later in a poor suburb of London. He looks outwardly harmless and rather clumsy - a contrast to Arthur Conan Doyle's gentleman detectives? As a theology and confessor, he knows about the eternal conflict between good and evil, he is a mixture of a good shepherd and a keen analyst. Actually, he is interested in preventing crime. If he convicts wrongdoers, their worldly punishment is less important to him than their spiritual purification.

Because of their clear basic moral message and the likeable title character, the stories about Father Brown were very successful and have been filmed several times, in the German-speaking area with Heinz R hmann and Josef Meinrad. Father Brown also inspired the creation of similar literary and cinematic characters.

Convert to Catholicism

A close friendship connected Chesterton with George Bernard Shaw?, Whose biography Chesterton wrote. Shaw was one of those ideological opponents with whom he liked to debate in public, as was Bertrand Russell? and H. G. Wells ?.

Not only as a pointed debater, who moves in daring leaps of thought and likes to contradict the zeitgeist, but also because of his exterior Chesterton was a special appearance: He was about 1.93 m tall and weighed more than 130 kilos. Usually a cigar was stuck to his lower lip. Cape, hat and cane sword completed its appearance.

Chesterton converted to Catholicism in 1922. It was a logical step after he had already defended the Catholic faith in many works and argued in its favor - a side of the writer that is less known in German-speaking countries than in Anglo-Saxon.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton died on June 14, 1936 at his home in Beaconsfield at the age of 62. He was buried in the local Catholic cemetery. The Pope posthumously awarded him the honorary title "Defensor Fidei" ("Defender of the Faith").

By the way ...

... Chesterton has his 1936 published Autobiography (German: The man with the golden key) once starred in a silent film with George Bernard Shaw. The two played cowboys. However, the film was never released.


  • Books by Gilbert Keith Chesterton at Jokers
  • Greybeards at Play (1900)
  • The Defendant (1901), German first 1917; 1991: Defense of nonsense. Sketches
  • The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), German: The Hero of Notting Hill (1927)
  • Heretics (1905), German: Heretic (1912)
  • Charles Dickens: A Critical Study (1906)
  • The Man Who Was Thursday (1907), German: The Man Who Was Thursday (1910)
  • The Ball and the Cross (1909), German first: Ball game with ideas. 2007: ball and cross
  • The Father Brown Stories (1911-1935)
    • The Innocence of Father Brown (1911), German first 1927. 1991: Father Browns Einfalt
    • The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914), German first 1927; 1991: Father Brown's Wisdom
    • The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926), German first 1927; 1991: Father Brown's disbelief
    • The Secret of Father Brown (1927), German first 1929; 1992: Father Brown's Secret
    • The Scandal of Father Brown (1935), German first 1948; 1993: Father Brown's scandal
  • The Man who Knew too much. Short stories. German first 1927; 2003: The Man Who Knew Too Much
  • Saint Francis of Assisi (1923)
  • Saint Thomas Aquinas (1933)
  • Autobiography (1936, German: The Man with the Golden Key


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