A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here, citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)


"The Speaker" Articles

A book I published containing 112 pieces Chesterton wrote for the newspaper "The Speaker" at the beginning of his career.

They are also available for free electronically on another blog of mine here, if you wish to read them that way.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Influence of G.K. Chesterton, Part One

The Influence of G.K. Chesterton, Part One

I decided to move this to my blog from where I had it before....This is the first of two parts

Hello! I have included below some examples of the influence of G.K. Chesterton (as well as some interesting facts.) Due to the sheer length of the material, however, I had to make two posts, one for examples of his influence from a secular perspective (which will be covered in this post), and another post to which I link at the very end  (before the references), listing examples from a Christian perspective (both Catholic and Protestant). (Or, to go straight to the second post of his Christian influence, just click here)

Obviously, this list is not complete, and I can (and probably will) be adding to it from time to time, but it gives a general idea of his influence. Also, in the references, the page numbers given for books are for the particular editions I found the information in, of course. (I simply provided them for my own use, in case I needed them later on.)

I hope you find it useful!

-George Orwell’s first work ever to be published in the English language was an article that Chesterton , as editor of his own paper G.K.’s Weekly, published in 1928 [1]

-Gandhi read an article in 1909 written by Chesterton on “Indian Nationalism“, which was to have a profound impact on the course of future history. As P.N. Furbank explains:
Gandhi was thunderstruck by the article. He immediately translated it into Gujarati, and on the basis of it he wrote his book Hind Swaraj, his own first formulation of a specifically ‘Indian’ solution to his country’s problems. Thus you might argue, not quite absurdly, that India owed its independence, or at least the manner in which it came, to an article thrown off by Chesterton in half-an-hour in a Fleet Street pub. [2]
Gandhi would write, for instance, in Indian Opinion (January 1910):
Mr. G.K. Chesterton is one of the great writers here. He is an Englishman of a liberal temper. Such is the perfection of his style that his writings are read by millions with great avidity. To "The Illustrated London News" of September 18, 1909 he has contributed an article on Indian awakening, which is worth studying. I believe that what he has said is reasonable." [2b]
-Charles Dickens, Chesterton’s 1906 biography of the great Victorian novelist, was responsible for sparking a revival of interest in Dicken’s work which has since “never waned” [3]. Among those who consider it the greatest book ever written on Charles Dickens were President Theodore Roosevelt, T.S. Eliot, George Bernard Shaw, William James, and Andre Maurois. [4] T.S. Eliot, for instance , wrote
[Chesterton’s] book on Dickens seems to me the best essay on that author that has ever been written. [5]
Perhaps the greatest tribute Chesterton could have received, however, was from two of Dicken’s own children. For instance:
Kate Perugini, the daughter of Dickens, wrote two letters of immense enthusiasm about the book, saying it was the best thing written about her father since Forster's biography. [6a]
Similarly, a son of Dickens, Alfred Tennyson Dickens, also "specially recommended" the book.[6b]

-Despite profound disagreements with them on nearly everything, G.K. Chesterton maintained close friendships with H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. Wells, for instance, was to write to his friend in 1933 a warm letter, in which he stated
If after all my Atheology turns out wrong and your Theology right I feel I shall always be able to pass into Heaven (if I want to) as a friend of G.K.C.'s. [7]
And after Chesterton‘s death, Wells wrote
From first to last he and I were very close friends...I never knew anyone so steadily true to form as G.K.C. [8]
George Bernard Shaw, meanwhile, always referred to Chesterton as a “colossal genius”, according to the testimony of T.E. Lawrence (aka “Lawrence of Arabia”) [9], and stated that
the world is not thankful enough for Chesterton [10].
  Shaw and GKC engaged in a series of debates over the course of many years, which both enjoyed greatly, and while neither gave ground on their respective positions in these debates, they nevertheless provided a living demonstration of the command to love thy enemy. As Shaw himself stated in one of those debates,
I have always followed Mr. Chesterton with extraordinary interest and enjoyment, and his assent to any view of mine is a great personal pleasure, because I am very fond of Mr. Chesterton. [11].
Moreover, Shaw described Chesterton’s biography of him as "the best work of literary art I have yet provoked." [12]

-Peter Pan's creator, J.M. Barrie, was also a "very good friend" [13], and in fact, Chesterton with Shaw (and a couple others) appeared in a silent movie that Barrie made called Rosy Rapture. You can find out more about the movie, and see a photograph that includes Chesterton, Barrie, and Shaw (with a couple others) as cowboys(!) in the link provided at the end [14].

After GKC's death, Barrie wrote:
"He was a glorious man, loveable beyond words and I think the greatest literary figure left to us. One aspect of him that I have not seen mentioned but that is clear to me is that he was such a gentleman. Chaucer's perfect gentle knight."[14a]
Winston Churchill and GKC:
" [...] in 1917 [Chesterton] was accompanying Winston Churchill (along with Churchill's cousin and GKC's secretary, Freda Spencer) to Warsash on the Solent to inspect seaplanes at Supermarine, Saunders-Roe and RNAS Calshot; Churchill had to rescue Freda when she fell into the Solent. It might be wondered what Gilbert's function was; possibly, together with more propaganda and recruiting speeches, he was also there in the capacity of a ghost-speechwriter for Churchill." [14b]
-Orson Welles was a great admirer of Chesterton's writings, and in 1938 produced a radio dramatization of GKC's novel The Man Who Was Thursday with the "Mercury Radio Theater on the Air" (just a few weeks before Welles' historic radio dramatization of H.G. Wells War of the Worlds, which made history by creating a widespread panic across America.) A link is provided at the end where you can listen to the broadcast online [15], though it would be highly recommended to first read the novel, since due to time constraints and other factors no doubt, some of the best material of the novel (and indeed many would say most important) had to be left out, making it more difficult to follow the storyline in the broadcast. (Nevertheless, it is a good broadcast, of course).

At the beginning of the broadcast (though unfortunately not included in the link below), Orson Welles described Chesterton in this way:
G.K.C., Gilbert Keith Chesterton, great, greatly articulate Roman convert and liberal, has been dead now for two years. For a unique brand of common-sense enthusiasm, for a singular gift of paradox, for a deep reverence and a high wit, and, most of all, for a free and shamelessly beautiful English prose, he will never be forgotten. [16]
Ray Bradbury described Chesterton as one of his literary heroes, and wrote a long story-poem about his heroes, mentioning Chesterton in the title itself, entitled: "The R.B., G.K.C., and G.B.S. Forever Orient Express" [17]

As Bradbury explained:
The R.B., G.K.C., and G.B.S. Forever Orient Express" is not a story, per se, but more a story-poem, and it is a perfect demonstration of my complete love for the library and its authors from the time I was eight years old. I didn't make it to college, so the library became my meeting place with people like G.K. Chesterton and Shaw and the rest of that fabulous group who inhabited the stacks. My dream was to one day walk into the library and see one of my books leaning against one of theirs.I never was jealous of my heroes, nor did I envy them, I only wanted to trot along as lapdog to their fame. [18]
F. Scott Fitzgerald was a GKC fan as well. He wrote that he put "Barry [sic] and Chesterton" above "anyone except Wells" [19] as well as confided in 1917 that
I want to be one of the new school of American novelists — the Wells- Shaw- Chesterton-Mackenzie combination [20]
He also confessed elsehwehre
I want to be able to do anything with words: handle slashing, flaming descriptions like Wells, and use the paradox with the clarity of Samuel Butler, the breadth of Bernard Shaw and the wit of Oscar Wilde, I want to do the wide sultry heavens of Conrad, the rolled-gold sundowns and crazy-quilt skies of Hitchens and Kipling as well as the pastelle dawns and twilights of Chesterton. All that is by way of example. As a matter of fact I am a professed literary thief, hot after the best methods of every writer in my generation. [21]
In fact, in the first chapter of Fitzgerald's very first novel, This Side of Paradise, the protoganist is said to have read Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday
...which he liked without understanding [22]
Ernest Hemingway also paid tribute to Chesterton through two characters in the short story "The Three-Day Blow", which appeared in his book In Our Time.
"I'd like to meet Chesterton," Bill said.

"I wish he was here now," Nick said. "We'd take him fishing to the `Voix tomorrow."

"I wonder if he'd like to go fishing," Bill said.

"Sure," said Nick. "He must be about the best guy there is. Do you remember `Flying Inn'?"
If an angel out of heaven
Gives you something else to drink,
Thank him for his kind intentions;
Go and pour them down the sink.
"That's right," said Nick. "I guess he's a better guy than Walpole."

"Oh, he's a better guy, all right," Bill said.

"But Walpole's a better writer."

"I don't know," Nick said. "Chesterton's a classic."

"Walpole's a classic, too," Bill insisted.

"I wish we had them both here," Nick said. "We'd take them both fishing to the `Voix tomorrow." [23]
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman also have been influenced by Chesterton. They dedicated their novel Good Omens
...to the memory of GK Chesterton, a man who knew what was going on. [24]
According to Gaiman, they did so
...because we felt that on a very fundamental level, we were doing The Man Who Was Thursday...Chesterton's book, The Man Who Was Thursday, in many ways underlines so much of modern fiction [25]
Terry Pratchett, when asked in a Barnes and Noble interview what his ten favorite books were, listed Chesterton's novel The Napoleon of Notting Hill at the top of his list, giving as his reason
For teaching me how to see the world. To Chesterton, even a quiet street was a world of fantasy and a street lamp more precious that a star (because there's a universe full of stars, compared to which street lamps are really uncommon [26]
Neil Gaiman's novel Coraline, meanwhile, opens with a Chesterton quote:
Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. [27]
Finally, the character Fiddler's Green/Gilbert from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series was modeled on Chesterton [27a]

 -Agatha Christie was a fan of Chesterton's detective Father Brown:
Father Brown has always been one of my favorite sleuths...He is one of the few figures in detective fiction who can be enjoyed for his own sake, whether you are a detective fan or not. [28]
-Dean Koontz is another Chestertonian. In an interview with Gilbert Magazine, he was asked which was the first Chesterton book he had read, stated:
Orthodoxy, and it had a powerful effect. Then I read The Everlasting Man, which I think was the better of the two. Together they were like a one-two punch. [29]
Shortly afterwards, when asked how Chesterton's precision of writing had influenced his writing, Koontz responded:
The precision of his language, the clarity of his thought, his exuberant nature, and his delight in tweaking the humorless who are humorless because of their dour materialism- all of those things influenced my writing.[29]
Indeed, Chesterton quotes feature as epigraphs in at least four of his novels (Relentless, Breathless, and two volumes of his Frankenstein Series: Lost Souls and The Dead Town). Koontz also dedicated The Dead Town to GKC:
To the memory of Gilbert K. Chesterton, who presented wisdom and hard truths in a most appealing package, changing countless lives with kindness and a smile [30]
-Another person on whom Chesterton's influence came was Alfred Hitchcock. According to Hitchcock biographer, Donald Spoto:
The influence of Chesterton must be assessed as well. Much admired and celebrated by the Catholic clergy, and read by Catholic schoolboys, Chesterton's popular essays "A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls" and "A Defence of Detective stories" (published in his 1901 collection The Defendant) entertained the adolescent Hitchcock, and provided him with ideas for the formation of his own style and vision when he was an apprentice filmmaker. It was Chesterton who defended popular literature, Chesterton who pointed out the archetypal, fairy-tale structure of police stories, and Chesterton who defended exploration of criminal behavior.

'One of the strangest examples of the degree to which ordinary life is undervalued is the example of popular literature, the vast mast of which we contentedly describe as vulgar.' Hitchcock read in 'A Defense of Penny Dreadfuls.' [31]
In fact, the title (though not the plot) of one of Hitchcock's movies (and it's remake), The Man Who Knew Too Much, is derived from a book of mysteries by Chesterton's of that name:
Hitchcock made The Man Who Knew Too Much twice, in England in 1934 and in America in 1956. It was based on a story by Charles Bennett and D.B. Wyndham-Lewis, though the title actually comes from a collection of mysteries by G.K. Chesterton, to which Hitchcock owned the rights and which has nothing to do with the story-line of the films he made. [32]
-Chesterton was "one of [President Theodore] Roosevelt's favorite contemporary writers." [33], and Roosevelt expressed a desire to meet Chesterton during a visit to England. [33a]. Such a desire was fulfilled, and Roosevelt, after meeting Chesterton, had this to say about him.
What a supreme genius Chesterton is! I never met a man who could talk so brilliantly and interestingly. [33b]
-J.K. Rowling, a member (at least at one time- I do not know if she is still or not) of the UK Chesterton Society [34], has "paid homage to" Chesterton. [35]  

-Harry Potter star Mark Williams ("Arthur Weasley") has also starred a BBC adaptation of GKC's Father Brown stories as Fr. Brown [35a]

-According to one source, this interesting fact concerning Doctor Who:
Anthony Coburn wrote the first ever Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child. His subsequent relationship with the show was a tad tempestuous but his influence was significant. It was Coburn who insisted on the TARDIS being a police box (and possibly even invented the acronym), and it was Coburn who made Susan the Doctor’s granddaughter. Coburn was also a committed Roman Catholic. He was even a street preacher. His faith shaped the naming of certain characters (Ian Chesterton after the famous Catholic author, G.K. Chesterton) [35b]
-Marcus Mumford of the band Mumford and Sons, when asked in an interview of any "favorite authors or poets that may or may not have influenced your writing", answered by stating:"I’m really enjoying G.K Chesterton at the moment, still." [36], and followed up by stating" "I really want to get into Orthodoxy but right now I want to read these three chapters my brother recommended from Everlasting Man". [36]

Indeed, part of the song "The Cave" shows the remarkable influence of a chapter from GKC's Saint Francis of Assisi, that part of the song quoting the book almost word for word, which can be seen from the link below. [37]

And one of Chesterton's books, The Outline of Sanity, was one of the featured books for the "book club" on the band's website. Marcus Mumford described GKC's book this way:
...I feel this book, even more than any others, is so brilliantly written and explained, that any of my attempted commentary won't really add to it. It's also ridiculously dense, and so rich that there's just too much to talk about in a pretty limited blog.

Suffice to say it's changed my life; but I don't expect it to, or even feel that it must, have the same effect on everyone! I think even if you disagree vehemently with what GKC puts forward, it's still a really refreshing experience to read such well considered and intriguing lines of argument. Especially now, on pretty hot topics like 'big vs small business', 'private vs public ownership', 'the man-made vs the natural', etc. The actual political ideal of Distributism, I'm still getting my head around, if I'm honest. But his thinking and his writing are just plain [*******], in my very humble opinion! [38]
-In 1954, Alec Guinness starred in the movie The Detective as Father Brown (clips of which may be found on Youtube), and an experience while shooting this movie had a profound impact in his subsequent conversion to the Catholic Church. [39]

-The creators of Columbo wrote:
When we created Columbo, we were influenced by the bureaucratic Petrovitch in Crime and Punishment and by G.K. Chesterton's marvelous little cleric, Father Brown. [40]
-Shortly after Chesterton's death, T.S. Eliot wrote an obituary tribute for The Tablet (June 20, 1936), in which after both praising and criticizing Chesterton's work in literature, went on to describe how GKC was "importantly and consistently on the side of the angels". He described Chesterton's social and economic ideas as:
the ideas for his time that were fundamentally Christian and Catholic. He did more, I think, than any man of his time...to maintain the existence of the important minority in the modern world. He leaves behind a permanent claim upon our loyalty, to see that the work that he did in his time is continued in ours. [41]
-Michael Crichton, in the bibliography to his novel Next, included two books by Chesterton, What's Wrong With the World and Eugenics and Other Evils. In his description of the former book, Crichton noted that "Chesterton saw the implications of [his contemporaries] vision of twentieth century society, and he predicted exactly what would come of it." In describing the latter book, he stated:
Chesterton's was one of the few voices to oppose eugenics in the early twentieth century. He saw right through it as fraudulent on every level, and he predicted where it would lead, with great accuracy. His critics were legion; they reviled him as a reactionary, ridiculous, ignorant, hysterical, incoherent, and blindly prejudiced, noting with dismay that 'his influence in leading people in the wrong way is considerable.' Yet Chesterton was right, and the consensus of scientists, political leaders, and the intelligentsia was wrong....This book is worth reading because, in retrospect, it is clear that Chesterton's arguments were perfectly sensible and deserving of an answer, and yet he was simply shouted down [42]
-Golfing legend Bobby Jones was likely a Chesterton fan, and Golf Digest reported what it refers to as a "compelling theory" that the reason the Masters jacket is green can be found from Chesterton's Father Brown story, "The Queer Feet." [43]

-Clarence Darrow, whom Chesterton had debated when the latter visited America, described him this way:
I was favorably impressed by, warmly attached to, G.K. Chesterton. I enjoyed my debates with him, and found him a man of culture and fine sensibilities. If he and I had lived where we could have become better acquainted, eventually we would have ceased to debate, I firmly believe. [44].
-Evelyn Waugh enjoyed Chesterton's writing, and Chesterton helped inspire Brideshead Revisited. In Joseph Pearce's words:
The most striking example of Chesterton's influence on Waugh is to be found in the way that Chesterton inspired Brideshead Revisited, arguably the finest of Waugh's novels and undeniably one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. The novel's central theme of the redemption of lost souls by means of "the unseen hook and invisible line...the twitch upon the thread" was taken from one of Chesterton's Father Brown stories. Waugh told a friend that he was anxious to obtain a copy of the omnibus edition of the Father Brown stories at the time he was putting the finishing touches to Brideshead, and a memorandum he wrote for MGM studios when a film version of the novel was being considered confirmed the profundity of Chesterton's influence:
'The Roman Catholic Church has the unique power of keeping remote control over human souls which have once been part of her. G.K. Chesterton has compared this to the fisherman's line, which allows the fish the illusion of free play in the water and yet has him by the hook; in his own time the fisherman by a "twitch upon the thread" draws the fish to land." [45]
-The British heavy metal band Iron Maiden used the first verse of Chesterton's hymn "O God of Earth and Altar" as the first part of their song "Revelations" on their 1983 album Piece of Mind (which one may find on Youtube)

-President John F. Kennedy was an admirer of Chesterton [46], and President Ronald Reagan "quote[d] GKC frequently." [47]. One example from Youtube of Reagan quoting Chesterton can be seen at the link at the bottom in the references (about 41 seconds into the video). [48a]

-Similarly, President Woodrow Wilson listed Chesterton among his favorite authors. [48b]

-J.R.R. Tolkien also makes reference to Chesterton:
In his essay, 'On Fairy Stories', Tolkien confesses the influence of what he terms Chestertonian Fantasy on his formulation of the nature, and supernature, of mythology. It is, indeed, no wonder that Chesterton would have been so important to the young Tolkien. The towering influence of the legendary Chesterbelloc upon the intellectual life of England in general, and upon the intellectual life of Catholics in England in particular, was at its most potent and profound in the years from 1900 until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. This is significant because it coincides with Tolkien's youth and, presumably with the most crucial years of his own intellectual and spiritual development. He was eight years old when Chesterton burst upon the literary and intellectual scene in 1900 and was twenty-two at the outbreak of the war. [49]
-Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted GKC as well:
Other writers that King quotes or paraphrases include Tennyson, Hugo, Emerson, Chesterton, Longfellow, and Dante. [50]
An example of King quoting Chesterton is in his book Strength to Love:
Without dependence on God our efforts turn to ashes and our sunrises into darkest night. Unless his spirit pervades our lives, we find only what G.K. Chesterton called "cures that don't cure, blessings that don't bless, and solutions that don't solve." [51]
-Alexander Solzhenitsyn was another person who read Chesterton:
Although Solzhenitsyn never wrote anything about G.K. Chesterton, he possessed a set of his Collected Works and read them cover to cover. [52]
-Chesterton's novel The Napoleon of Notting Hill inspired Michael Collins to lead a movement for Irish independance. (In fact, knowing of Collins literary taste, and wishing for them to better understand his mindset, it is said the British Prime Minister Lloyd George presented a copy of GKC's novel to every member of his cabinet prior to meeting with the Irish delegation during negotiations for the Irish treaty) [53]. Also:
One of [Collin's] central ideas was derived from G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. He was given the book by Joseph Plunkett, his immediate superior in 1916.... And Collins prized in particular the advice of the Chief Anarchist in the Chesterton book: 'if you don’t seem to be hiding nobody hunts you out'. Accordingly, Collins never seemed to be hiding. He always wore good suits, neatly pressed. And time after time, this young businessman was passed through police cordons unsearched, with his pockets stuffed with incriminating documents. [54]
-Chesterton was the first president of the Detection Club. Strand Magazine notes:
In 1929 Anthony Berkeley founded London’s Detection Club, one of its avowed purposes being to promote the ideals that Chesterton had articulated as a critic and had realized so successfully in his Father Brown stories. It was a small and select group that included Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Freeman Wills Crofts, E.C. Bentley, Austen Freeman, and Ronald Knox. To this day members must agree to adhere, when writing their mysteries, to certain rules of fair play—those so skillfully incorporated into Chesterton’s mysteries.

Chesterton, of course, was duly installed as the club’s first president, a position he held until his death in 1936. It was an appropriate honor for detective fiction’s leading spokesman and acknowledged father of the cozy murder mystery. [55]
-Dorothy Sayers acknowledged her debt to Chesterton:
I think, in some ways, G.K.'s books have become more a part of my mental make-up than those of any writer you could name [56]
-Chesterton's close friendship with Hilaire Belloc inspired George Bernard Shaw to coin the term "Chesterbelloc". And Belloc's satiric poem Lines to a Don was written as a response to the:
Remote and ineffectual Don
That dared attack my Chesterton.
.Additionally, Belloc wrote a poem about Chesterton called The Only Man I Regularly Read. Finally:
In later years, Belloc would describe Chesterton as 'the Master' and would consider him 'a thinker so profound and so direct that he had no equal [57].
-Chesterton's The Ballad of the White Horse, frequently quoted in the London papers during WW2, is one of the great epic poems in the English language. Among it's admirers were Graham Greene and C.S. Lewis:
[The Ballad of the White Horse] captured the imagination of a whole generation and influenced some of the century's greatest writers. John Galsworthy, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were among its admirers, although Tolkien later became more critical of its undoubted flaws. It was also one of Graham Greene's favorite poems. In an interview published in the Observer on 12 March 1978, Greene called Chesterton "another underestimated poet". To illustrate the point, he cited the Ballad: "Put The Ballad of the White Horse against The Waste Land. If I had to lose one of them, I'm not sure that...well anyhow, let's just say I re-read The Ballad more often!" [58]
-Another admire of the Ballad was W.H. Auden [59]. Auden also described Chesterton first book ever published Greybeards at Play (a collection of lighter poetry) as "some of the best pure nonsense verse in English" [60] He also stated: “I cannot think of a single comic poem by Chesterton that is not a triumphant success." [60a]

-Kingsley Amis described GKC's novel The Man Who Was Thursday as "the most thrilling book I have ever read" [61]

-Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dion DiMucci has high praise, stating:
Then I went to G.K. Chesterton...He was Catholic and I started looking at what he was saying about Catholicism, and I’m telling you...C.S. Lewis, [Chesterton], these guys are my heroes. I love these guys. [62]
-E.F. Schumacher was greatly influenced by GKC:
Fritz Schumacher, founder-philosopher of the new conservationist and decentralist movement, acknolwedged his debt to the inspiration of Chesterton's thought and the social philosophy of Distributism. Indeed, his famous book, Small is Beautiful, grew from an essay which he orginally named Chestertonian Economics. [63]
-An interesting (though puzzling, for reasons to be seen) anecdote involving James Joyce:
During World War I, James Joyce formed a theater company to produce English plays in Switzerland. One of the productions was to be Chesterton's Magic, which went into rehearsal in May of 1918. When, however, the British consulate deemed the play unpatriotic, two of the actors resigned, and so Joyce scrubbed Magic in favor of less controversial material." [64]
-Frank Kafka on Chesterton:
Discussing both Orthodoxy and The Man Who Was Thursday Kafka remarked that Chesterton "is so [happy], that one might almost believe he had found God....in such a godless time one must be [happy]. It is a duty. [65]
-Karel Capek wrote a letter, asking him to vistit Prague:
..If you would like to come next spring, I beg you to be my guest...You shall find here so many people who cherish you. I like you myself as no other writer; it's for your sake that being in London I went to habit in Notting Hill and it is for your sake that I liked it. I cannot believe that I should not meet you again. Please, come to Prague.

I wish you a happy New Year, Mr. Chesterton. You must be happy, making your readers happier. You are so good. [66]
-An amusing quote by Robert Frost:
In 1912 Robert Frost rented a five-room house in Beaconsfield, noting its location "within a mile or two of where Milton finished Paradise Lost and a mile or two of where Grey lies buried and within as many rods as furlongs of the house where Chesterton tries truth to see if it won't prove as true upside down, as it does right side up." [67]
.-H.L. Mencken, though often critical of Chesterton (including on the present occasion), still wrote in a review of GKC's biography of George Bernard Shaw:
The cleverest man in all the world...is here doing his cleverest writing. ... Not since St. Augustine have the gods sent us a man who could make the incredible so fascinatingly probable. [68]
-T.H. White announced on the occasion of Chesterton's death:
G.K. Chesterton died yesterday. P.G. Wodehouse is now the greatest living master of the English language. [69]
-P.G. Wodehouse in turn, introduced Chesterton into his fiction, making humurous references to his weight (which GKC no doubt would have laughed louder than anyone else at). For instance in Mr Mullner Speaking:
At that moment, however, the drowsy stillness of the summer afternoon was shattered by what sounded to his strained senses like G.K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin.
And from The Clicking of Cuthbert:
"Flesho!" cried Mrs. Jane Jukes Jopp triumphantly. "I've been trying to remember the name all the afternoon. I saw about it one of the papers. The advertisements speak most highly of it. You take it before breakfast and again before retiring, and they guarantee it to produce firm, healthy flesh on the most sparsely-covered limbs in next to no time. Now, will you remember to get a bottle tonight? It comes in two sizes, the five-shilling (or large size) and the smaller at half-a-crown. G.K. Chesterton writes that he used it regularly for years.
-Martin Gardner reprinted approximately one-third of Chesterton's chapter "The Ethics of Elfland" (from the book Orthodoxy) in Gardner's own book Great Essays in Science, titling the selection "The Logic of Elfland".

Gardner as well wrote a book on Chesterton's fiction called The Fantastic Fiction of Gilbert Chesterton (many, though not all, of the chapters being introductions he had written for various GKC books before).

-The psychologist William James referred to Chesterton's book Heretics as an "admirable collection of essays" [70a]. Elsehwere, in a letter to John Jay Chapman in 1906, he also describes his admiration for GKC (albeit critical of GKC's love of paradox):
...and if I mistake not G.K. Chesterton as well. I hope you know and love the last-named writer, who seems to me a great teller of the truth. His systematic preference for contradictions and paradoxical forms of statement seem to me a mannerism somewhat to be regretted in so wealthy a mind; but that is a blemish from which some of our very greatest intellects are not altogether free. [70b]
Incidentally, two humorous anecdotes involving GKC and William James are related, one by H.G. Wells in Maise Ward's biography of Chesterton  [71], and the other by Chesterton himself, though the latter deals more directly with William's brother, Henry James [72]. However, William was there as well.

-Marshall McLuhan, who converted to Catholicism based on his reading of Chesterton, wrote an article entitled "G.K. Chesterton: A Practical Mystic", as well as the introduction to Hugh Kenner's first book Paradox in Chesterton

-Another interesting fact, from the mid-90's:
A portrait of Cheslea Clinton, done in colored pencil and portraying the teenager as a heavenly angel, can be seen hanging in Hillary Clinton's study. The artist, Sue Shanahan of Mokena Illinois, inscribed the drawing with "Angels fly because they take themselves lightly," a familiar Chesterton quotation. [73]
-Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow listed G.K. Chesterton's classic Christian apologetics book Orthodoxy first in his list of "must read" books. As Snow put it so well: "Chesterton didn’t write with a pen; he wrote with fireworks." [74]

-Karl Swenson (who played the character of Lars Hanson, owner of Hanson's Mill where Charles Ingalls worked, on the television show Little House on the Prarie) also has a GKC connection. In 1945, Swenson starred as Father Brown in a radio adaptation. So Father Brown was the boss of Charles Ingalls! :-) [75]

Harry Houdini was apparently a Chestertonian as well [75a]

 Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza states:
I find it’s easy to talk about faith when it's true and that’s how it's been in my life. I know it's a different time today, but I have no worries. I remember reading (Catholic philosopher and apologist) G.K. Chesterton and there was this whole movement of Atheism in the '20s and '30s. I mean, it comes and goes. But the rock that is the Church will always be there. So I feel confident. I'm parking my car here. [75b]
 -Finally, to conclude the section detailing Chesterton's "secular" influence:
Other admirers included Marshall McLuhan, Agatha Christie, E.F. Schumacher ("small is beautiful"), Dorothy L. Sayers, Dorothy Day, Hugh Kenner, Gary Wills, Graham Greene, J.R.R. Tolkien, John F. Kennedy, Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize winner from Argentina Luis Borges. and on and on [76]


Also, here are some general observations as well. :-)

[G.K. Chesterton] was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1935, but in the end no prize was awarded for that year." [i]
Second, as Martin Gardner observes:
Gilbert Keith Chesterton and Herbert George Wells, together with George Bernard Shaw, were the three most famous writers of Edwardian England [ii]
Finally, just some of the quotes from the 2,000 word obituary (which appeared on the front page of the New York Times) the day after Chesterton's death:
-...[Chesterton was] for more than a generation the most exuberant personality in English literature.

-His pen had ranged over almost every field in literature for nearly forty years. It was like meeting a living legend to see his giant bulk shouldering its way through London streets or rising from the dinner table to make one of those matchless after-dinner speeches in which he excelled.

He was a master of paradox, but, more than that, his imagination ran riot over letters, art, religion, philosophy, and current affairs, so that it was next to impossible to make anything like a complete catalogue of his writings. Not only did he become the most scintillating essayist of his age, but he wrote novels, detective stories, plays, poems in unending stream, and as literary critic,he turned out one of the best books on Dickens in existance.

-With writers like Kipling, Wells, Bennett, Belloc, Conrad and others of his time, Mr. Chesterton played a most important part in English letters. His versatility was almost as astounding as his immense capacity for work

-Quantity there was, but also very high quality. His opinions might have been whimsical and shocking, but he was never dull. [iii]


To continue to the list of his Christian influence, please click here.



1. Wisdom and Innocence, p.363
2. G.K. Chesterton: A Centenary Appraisal, p.21
2b.  G.K. Chesterton: A Reappraisal, p. 411
3. Defiant Joy, pp.97-98.  
4. G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense, p.17
5. G.K. Chesterton: A Centenary Appraisal, p.182
6a. Gilbert Keith Chesterton, p. 158
6b. Ohio Educational Monthy, Volume 61 (1912)
7. Wisdom and Innocence, p. 436.
8. Gilbert Keith Chesterton, p.371
9. Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton: Plays, Chesterton on Shaw, p. 30
10. http://www.chesterton.org/discover/who.html
11. Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton: Plays, Chesterton on Shaw, p. 544
12. Wisdom and Innocence p.143
13. Autobiography, p. 184
14. http://bioscopic.wordpress.com/2008/05/30/pen-and-pictures-no-3-jm-barrie/
14a. The Woman Who Was Chesterton, Nancy Carpentier Brown
14b.  G.K. Chesterton: A Reappraisal, Denis Conlon, p. 111
15. http://sounds.mercurytheatre.info/mercury/380905.mp3
16. Defiant Joy, p.124
17. The Cat's Pajamas, pp. 227-234
18. The Cat's Pajamas, xviii-xix
19. A Life in Letters
20. F. Scott Fitzgerald: General perspectives ; Fitzgerald and other writers, p.67
21. F. Scott Fitzgerald on Authorship, p.34 (emphasis mine)
22. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/This_Side_of_Paradise/Book_One/Chapter_1
23. http://www.faculty.english.ttu.edu/rice/3360/ThreeDayBlow.pdf
24. Good Omens
25. http://www.criticalblast.com/articles/2001/05/07/neil-gaiman-american-god-way-britain
26. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/writers/writerdetails.asp?cid=1008618
27. Coraline
27a. http://celephais.dyndns.org/blog/2007/12/gilbert-k-chesterton-the-angry-street/
28. G.K. Chesterton: A Reappraisal Denis J. Conlon, p. 409
29. Gilbert Magazine, December 2009, p.18
30: Frankenstein: The Dead Town
31: The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock, Donald Spoto, p. 40
32. Hitchcock as Philosopher, Robert J. Yanal, p. 166
33. Carry a Big Stick: The Uncommon Heroism of Theodore Roosevelt, George Grant, p.123
33a.  http://platitudesundone.blogspot.com/2012/07/theodore-roosevelt-and-gkc-again.html
33b.  http://platitudesundone.blogspot.com/2013/02/what-supreme-genius-chesterton-is-i.html
34. The Mystery of Harry Potter, Nancy Brown, p. 21
35. Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Joseph Pearce, p. 85
35a.  http://platitudesundone.blogspot.it/2012/06/harry-potter-star-mark-williams-to-star.html
35b. http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/doctor-who/32264/doctor-who-and-faith-bigger-on-the-inside#ixzz3qU8Po6N136. http://www.americansongwriter.com/2010/12/drinks-with-mumford-sons
37. http://platitudesundone.blogspot.com/2011/02/mumford-and-sons-cave-and-gkcs-saint.html
38. http://www.mumfordandsons.com/blog/book-club-returns-book-3-the-outline-of-sanity-and-more?tag=marcus-book-club
39. https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=6679
40. http://www.columbo-site.freeuk.com/created.htm
41. G.K. Chesterton: A Centenary Appraisal, Edited by John Sullivan, p. 182
42. http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2007/09/michael-crichto.html
43. http://web.archive.org/web/20070623112303/http://golfdigest.com/search/index.ssf?/majors/masters/gw20070330whygreen.html
44. Chesterton as Seen by His Contemporaries, Cyril Clemens, p. 68
45. Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Joseph Pearce, pp. 212-213
46. http://www.patrickkillough.com/courses/gkc_peo_03.html
47. The Quotable Chesterton, p. xv
48a. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2AxXNwzZvQ&feature=player_embedded
48b. http://platitudesundone.blogspot.com/2012/01/president-woodrow-wilson-on-gkc.html
49. Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Joseph Pearce, p. 248
50. Ring Out Freedom: The Voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement, Fredrik Sunnemark, p. 246 (emphasis mine)
51. Strength to Love, Martin Luther King, Jr.
52. Gilbert Magazine, July/August 2009, p. 44
53. Wisdom and Innocence, Joseph Pearce, p. 89
54. http://www.generalmichaelcollins.com/The_Path_to_Freedom/Foreword.html
55. http://www.strandmag.com/fatherbrown.htm
56. Wisdom and Innocence, Joseph Pearce, p.484
57. Old Thunder, Joseph Pearce, p. 101
58. Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Joseph Pearce, p. 42
59. The Ballad of the White Horse (with introduction by Sister Bernadette Sheridan), p. xxix
60. Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy, William Oddie, p. 199
60a.  http://www.chesterton.org/discover-chesterton/chesterton-101/lecture-93/
61. http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0140183884/ref=sib_dp_top_bc/104-7407367-4455108?_encoding=UTF8&p=S05E#reader-link
62. http://www.johncodyonline.com/home/articles/2006-02-dion
63. G.K. Chesterton: A Prophet for the 21st Century, Aidan Mackey, p. 10
64. James Joyce, Richard Ellman, pp. 439-40
65. Wisdom and Innocence, Joseph Pearce, p.108
66. Wisdom and Innocence, Joseph Pearce, p.349 (emphasis mine)
67. Robert Frost, Lawrence Thompson, p. 394 (emphasis mine)
68. Defiant Joy, Kevin Belmonte, pp. 142-144
69. Literary Converts, Joseph Pearce, p.191
70a. Pragmatism, a New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, William James, p. 3
70b. The Letters of William James, p. 257
71. http://platitudesundone.blogspot.com/2011/07/hg-wells-on-gk-chesterton.html
72. http://platitudesundone.blogspot.com/2011/05/henry-and-william-james-visit.html
73. Chicago Tribune, September 11, 1994, Tempo p. 1.
74. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,112958,00.html
75. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Father_Brown
75a.  http://www.houdinifile.com/2016/10/houdinis-invisible-man_15.html
75b. http://www.cny.org/stories/Mike-Piazza-Says-He-Will-Always-Park-His-Car-at-Church,14669
76. http://www.patrickkillough.com/courses/gkc_peo_03.html

i. Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, Volume 10, part II, xix
ii. The Fantastic Fiction of Gilbert Chesterton, Martin Gardner, p. 14
iii. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30912FF3F58107A93C7A8178DD85F428385F9&scp=2&sq=G.K.+Chesterton&st=p