“I think I owe my success [as a journalist] to having listened respectfully and rather bashfully to the very best advice, given by all the best journalists who had achieved the best sort of success in journalism; and then going away and doing the exact opposite. . . I have a notion that the real advice I could give to a young journalist is simply this: to write an article for the Sporting Times and one for the Church Times and put them in the wrong envelopes. . . What is really the matter with almost every paper, is that it is much too full of things suitable to the paper.”
– G.K. Chesterton
That is just one example of Chesterton’s refreshing sense of humour. A lot of his writing is suffused with mischief and a certain unwillingness to be serious that makes him a delight to read. He says in the introduction to one of his books, a collection of essays called All things Considered that “Their (the essays in the book) chief vice is that so many of them are serious because I had no time to make them flippant. It is so easy to be solemn, so hard to be frivolous.”
Chesterton (1874-1936) was a prolific English critic and author of verse, essays, novels, and short stories.
He was a witty, intelligent, and insightful defender of the poor, the downtrodden, the weak, and especially of the family. He loved good beer, good wine, and good cigars. He wrote in just about every genre: history, biography, novels, poetry, short stories, apologetics and theology, economic works, and more.
As a literary critic, Chesterton was without parallel. His biography of Charles Dickens is credited with sparking the Dickens revival in London in the early 20th century. His biography of St. Thomas Aquinas was called the best book on St. Thomas ever written, by no less than Etienne Gilson, the 20th century’s greatest Thomistic scholar.
His books Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man are considered the 20th century’s finest works of Christian and Catholic apologetics. And audiences still delight in the adventures of Chesterton’s priest sleuth, Father Brown, as well as such timeless novels as The Man Who Was Thursday and The Napoleon of Notting Hill.
Despite the large number of books he published, Chesterton considered himself to be primarily a journalist. During his lifetime, he published literally thousands of essays in newspapers and journals on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Illustrated London News, the Daily News, his own newspaper, G.K’s Weekly, and the New York American. These essays are as fresh, invigorating, and relevant today as when they were first published.