July 15, 2015

Wednesday Writing Wisdom (16) G.K. Chesterton

“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”

G.K. Chesterton
(1874 - 1936)

Curious facts about:

Way back in 1894, 11 years before he published his first novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, Chesterton apparently wrote a semi-autobiographical romance about a character named Basil Howe. The manuscript never saw print, possibly because Chesterton's wife, whom he met in 1896, didn't like it. Nearly 100 years later, when hundreds of Chesterton's notebooks and papers were being transferred from his estate to the British Library, a Chesterton scholar discovered and reconstructed the novel. Basil Howe was recently published in the United Kingdom.

In addition to influencing many Christian writers of his era Chesterton inspired at least two political leaders. In a column published in the United States October 2, 1909, Chesterton complained that the nationalist movement in India was neither nationalist nor Indian, but merely a reaction against British imperialism. He thought that Indian sovereignty, which he supported, should be based on Indian culture and tradition instead. Mahatma Gandhi followed this advice. Back in the British Isles, cagey Irish nationalist Michael Collins took a cue from Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) and avoided capture by traveling in plain sight.


  1. Wow, I'm embarrassed to admit I'm not familiar with this author...or at least I'm drawing a blank at the moment. Thanks for shedding the light on him, Carmen. I learn from these posts!

    1. The Man Who Was Thursday is his best known novel, but I read some of his stories, featuring Father Brown a priest-detective.
      Thank you for checking the post. I also learn along with these posts, trust me.

    2. Ahh, now I know who he is. I have heard of Father Brown, but didn't recognize the name of the author. Thanks for clearing that up!

  2. I have heard of Chesterton but don't believe I've read anything by him. I am so appreciative of how he just went about his business of writing and his works influenced the political icons Michael Collins and Gandhi.

    1. There's a TV series, Father Brown - 1974 - based on the stories of G.K. Chesterton, in which a British Catholic Priest solves mysteries.He is more like an accelerated Miss Marple in both action and demeanor.The lead actor is Kenneth More.
      And there's another TV series 2013 based on the same Chesterton stories, made by BBC.
      There's also an older ( 1954) movie The Detective screened from his stories.


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