Chesterton, Cecil (1879-1918) by Gaipa, Mark

Cecil Chesterton 1879-1918 Born in Kensington (London) to a middle-class family of bohemian and Unitarian leanings, Chesterton is perhaps best known as the younger brother of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, who is rumored to have said, upon Cecil’s birth, Even as a youth, however, Chesterton was intent on conducting arguments and not just receiving them; he would grow up into a man whose talent and contentious spirit earned J. Chesterton Squire’s high praise: (120). Biographers have noted the young Chesterton’s fondness for dirt and cockroaches, in addition to argumentation, reading, and—over time—socialist politics and Swinburnian verse. He was educated, in London, at Colet Court, St. Paul’s School, and the Slade School of Art; he also studied to be a surveyor (in line with the family business) before he embarked on a career in Fleet-street journalism, contributing articles to a variety of London weeklies and dailies. now I shall always have an audience. there was no better arguer, no abler journalist, in England Riches did not follow, which may have strengthened Chesterton’s standing commitment to socialism. In 1901 Chesterton joined the Fabian Society and the Christian Social Union; in 1904, he was elected to the Fabian Executive Committee. He lost his seat in 1907, probably due to his alienating many of its female members, but also perhaps to his eccentric efforts to wed with Christianity and Toryism. Fabian Socialism From 1907-1911, Chesterton worked almost exclusively for and became a regular and important contributor. In the first volume under Orage, Chesterton took turns with Holbrook Jackson and Clifford Sharp in composing the unsigned lead-off section of the paper that covered the week’s current events and that Orage, in later volumes, would himself compose under the heading Chesterton’s signed contributions to the first nine volumes include numerous articles offering a socialist perspective on various issues and problems: e.g., (), (), and (). In many of these articles, Chesterton sought to defend socialism against criticisms leveled against it by Belloc and his brother. Chesterton’s writing for also addressed issues of equality, democracy, competition, and ownership. In the second half of Volume 4 (Jan.-Apr. 1909), Chesterton assumed the role of the paper’s drama critic, and in later years he authored continuing series on topics like () and (). The New Age The Outlook, Notes of the Week. Socialism and the Soldier 01.13:198 Socialism and the Drink Supply 04.08:157 Liberty and Socialism 05.11:215 The New Age How the Rich Rule Us 07.13:295 The Decline and Fall of the Labour Party 09.02:28 In 1911, Chesterton left the NA to become assistant editor on Belloc’s new weekly, . When the folded in 1912, Chesterton bought the paper and renamed it the , summoning his friend Ada Jones to become his editorial assistant. The , like its predecessor, sought—sometimes recklessly—to expose corruption at all levels of government. Such practices nearly destroyed Chesterton’s career when, in the Marconi Trial, he was found guilty of libel (but—in an apparent triumph for clean government—fined only a hundred pounds). With the onset of WW1, the shifted its attacks to opponents of the war, and Chesterton—along with his brother—produced anti-German propaganda for the government. The Eye-Witness Eye-Witness New Witness New-Witness New Witness As Chesterton aged, he was drawn ever more toward religious orthodoxy—first exchanging, in his early 20’s, his Unitarian upbringing with membership in the Church of England, and then, a decade later, undergoing a conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1912. This orthodoxy may have found unfortunate expression in the increasingly bitter and anti-semitic tenor of Chesterton’s writing for the . New Witness In 1916, before Chesterton went off to war, Ada Jones finally consented to marry him, thus concluding their sixteen-year courtship. Chesterton was wounded three times, and in December 1918 his wife managed to be at Chesterton’s side when he died of pneumonia in a military hospital in Paris. Squire recalls; (120). He was never happy except when discussing an intellectual problem, I should not be surprised to learn that even during his last illness he expounded theology or politics to the doctors at his bedside —Mark Gaipa Sources . Mrs. Cecil Chesterton (Ada Jones) The Chestertons (1941). Dictionary of National Biography. . Broccard Sewell Cecil Chesterton (1975) . Solomon Eagle (J. Chesterton Squire) Books in General, Third Series (1921). Selected Works by Chesterton Gladstonian Ghosts (1905) G. K. Chesterton: A Criticism (1908) (co-authored with Belloc) The Party System (1911) A History of the United States (1919)

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