Return to Chesterton
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By Maisie Ward
G. K. Chesterton was, in the words of George Bernard Shaw, “a man of colossal genius.” Fittingly, then, his biography could not be limited to a single work. In 1943, Maisie Ward published what Frances Chesterton called “the definitive biography” of her husband. Yet its seven hundred-plus pages could not comprise the entirety of its subject’s life, work, and influence—his genius. Untold quantities of new material arrived for Ward’s consideration; the only natural course was to produce a companion to that definitive work. Hence Return to Chesterton, composed chiefly of unpublished letters, verses, and various wit of Chesterton’s, alongside sundry new stories and memories from his family and friends. The resulting portrait brings one face-to-face, not with Chesterton the author, but Chesterton the man.
Chesterton moved, though with the personal simplicity of a child, in a world of apocalyptic images; he saw his religion everywhere; it mattered furiously to him. What he did is in God’s hands; what he was is a matter of gracious recollection to his friends; it is the effect he made on the world that claims the world’s attention and its gratitude. (Ronald Knox)
Maisie Ward’s competency as a biographer is proven by Chesterton himself: “The best kind of critic draws attention not to the finality of a thing, but to its infinity. Instead of closing a question, he opens a hundred.” Return to Chesterton opens wide the doors onto the glorious expanse of G. K. C., inviting readers to walk through the world as he did: with rich humor and genuine affection, with an imagination as fantastic as fairy-land and a vision of God and his creation as clear as crystal.
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Maisie Ward (1889–1975) was an English Catholic writer, publisher, and speaker, widely recognized as one of the most important Christian intellectuals of the twentieth century. With her husband, Frank Sheed, she founded the publishing house of Sheed & Ward, and was instrumental in reviving the Catholic literary movement.