1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chesterton, Gilbert Keith
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Chesterton, Gilbert Keith
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CHESTERTON, GILBERT KEITH (1874- ), English journalist and author, who came of a family of estate-agents, was born in London on the 29th of May 1874. He was educated at St Paul's school, which he left in 1891 with the idea of studying art. But his natural bent was literary, and he devoted himself mainly to cultivating that means of expression, both in prose and verse; he did occasional reviewing, and had some experience in a publisher's office. In 1900, having already produced a volume of clever poems, The Wild Knight, he definitely took to journalism as a career, and became a regular contributor of signed articles to the Liberal journals, the Speaker and Daily News. He established himself from the first as a writer with a distinct personality, combative to a swashbuckling degree, unconventional and dogmatic; and the republication of much of his work in a series of volumes (e.g. Twelve Types, Heretics, Orthodoxy), characterized by much acuteness of criticism, a pungent style, and the capacity of laying down the law with unflagging impetuosity and humour, enhanced his reputation. His powers as a writer are best shown in his studies of Browning (in the "English Men of Letters" series) and of Dickens; but these were only rather more ambitious essays among a medley of characteristic utterances, ranging from fiction (including The Napoleon of Notting-hill) to fugitive verse, and from artistic criticism to discussions of ethics and religion. The interest excited by his work and views was indicated and and analysed in an anonymous volume (G. K. Chesterton: a Criticism) published in 1908.