My father, who was serene, humorous and full of hobbies….


Prefigured in that paragraph are scenes from Chesterton’s first novel, evidence of the affection for his country but also his love of locality, and major symbols of his faith. From there we move on to a happy and magical boyhood, filled with his father’s stories and the creativity and imagination that was clearly endowed to young Gilbert Keith Chesterton, returning a hundredfold. A toy theatre would be a doorway to infinite worlds, and cardboard cutouts would provide endless inspiration, riding in and out of fairy tales on three fingers: “for those three human fingers are more magical than any magic figures; the three fingers which hold the pen and the sword and the bow of the violin; the very three fingers that the priest lifts in benediction as the emblem of the Blessed Trinity. There was no conflict between the two magics in my mind.” – Dale Ahlquist on Chesterton’s father’s influence on his life and writing, Lecture: Autobiography

“My father, who was serene, humorous and full of hobbies, remarked casually that he had been asked to go on what was then called The Vestry. At this my mother, who was more swift, restless and generally Radical in her instincts, uttered something like a cry of pain; she said, “Oh, Edward, don’t! You will be so respectable! We never have been respectable yet; don’t let’s begin now.” And I remember my father mildly replying, “My dear, you present a rather alarming picture of our lives, if you say that we have never for one single instant been respectable.” Readers of Pride and Prejudice will perceive that there was something of Mr. Bennet about my father; though there was certainly nothing of Mrs. Bennet about my mother.”

-G. K. Chesterton, Hearsay Evidence, Autobiography, 1936

Read the chapter: Hearsay Evidence (Gutenberg Online)

Read the lecture: Autobiography (Dale Ahlquist )


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