G.K. Chesterton …
G. K. Chesterton, (1874 – 1936), was an English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic.
Chesterton wrote around 80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4000 essays, and several plays. He was a columnist for the Daily News, The Illustrated London News, and his own paper, G. K.’s Weekly; he also wrote articles for the Encyclopædia Britannica, including the entry on Charles Dickens and part of the entry on Humour in the 14th edition (1929). His best-known character is the priest-detective Father Brown, who appeared only in short stories, while The Man Who Was Thursday is arguably his best-known novel. He was a convinced Christian and Christian themes and symbolism appear in much of his writing.
Chesterton’s writings consistently displayed wit and a sense of humour. He employed paradox, while making serious comments on the world, government, politics, economics, philosophy, theology and many other topics.
Chesterton loved to debate, often engaging in friendly public disputes with such men as George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell and Clarence Darrow.
He usually wore a cape and a crumpled hat, with a swordstick in hand, and a cigar hanging out of his mouth. He had a tendency to forget where he was supposed to be going and miss the train that was supposed to take him there. It is reported that on several occasions he sent a telegram to his wife Frances from some distant (and incorrect) location, writing such things as “Am in Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?” to which she would reply, “Home”
I was finding it quite difficult to come up with anything relating to Chesterton’s writing habits and routine. I wrote to Dale Ahlquist of the American Chesterton Society and he was able to supply me with the following information. My grateful thanks go to him.
The short answer is that Chesterton was writing most all the time in a wide variety of settings, including pubs, restaurants, train stations, sidewalks and stairwells. When he employed a secretary and was at home, he did have more of a routine. He would rise late, dictate to his secretary for about two hours before lunch, have lunch, attend to business matters, take a walk, and dictate some more in the afternoon. After dinner, he would work alone late into the night. This routine was broken up by having to attend editorial meetings for his newspapers and social events and especially speaking engagements. He was particularly good at writing in the midst of great commotion. He even seemed to prefer it. He was not one who had to retreat to silence and no distraction in order to write. If he wanted silence, it was for the special purpose of doing nothing. But he said he never had enough nothing to do.