Frequently Asked Questions - Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton
The Society of G.K. Chesterton
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Frequently Asked Questions

I am writing a book and would like to include a Chesterton quotation. How do I go about doing that?
All of Chesterton’s writings pre-1924 are in the U.S. public domain. For short quotations, no permission is necessary.

Is there a place that I can read letters between Gilbert and Frances?
You’ll find a selection in Maisie Ward’s biography Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

Do you have a list of books which G.K. Chesterton liked to read or recommended to others?
Chesterton was a voracious reader but he had a particular taste for Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, and English poetry. Read a selection of his essays on literary criticism here.

Where does the following quotation come from? “For when we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.”
It is not a direct quotation of Chesterton, but a combination of two separate quotations. Read more on this quotation here.

When was Chesterton born? When did he become a Catholic? When did he get married? When did he die?
Chesterton was born May 29, 1874 in Kensington, London.
He was received into the Roman Catholic Church on July 30, 1922 in Beaconsfield, England.
Chesterton married Frances Alice Blogg (
1869–1938) on June 28, 1901 at St. Mary Abbots, Kensington.
Chesterton died of congestive heart failure on June 14, 1936 at his home in Beaconsfield.

What Chesterton book would you recommend for a first-time reader of G.K. Chesterton?
Dale Ahlquist’s The Apostle of Common Sense is a good introduction to Chesterton. The Reading Plan for Beginners provides an introduction to Chesterton’s works by categories. 

What is the theme song from EWTN’s television show, “The Apostle of Common Sense”?
The song is “You Can’t Get Fat in Wartime”.

Was Chesterton friends with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien?
Chesterton never met C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien. They were, however, both influenced by him.

Was G.K. Chesterton anti-Semitic?
The short answer is no. The long answer is absolutely not. Click here to read our FAQ on this issue. You may also download a free issue of Gilbert magazine that deals in a thorough and forthright manner with the accusation.

What does Chesterton say about taking a fence down?
Don’t take a fence down unless you first find out why it was put up.

Is it true that The Times once sent out an inquiry to famous authors, asking the question, “What’s wrong with the world today?” and Chesterton responded simply: “Dear Sirs, I am. Yours, G.K. Chesterton”?
This story stems from an essay in the Daily News, but the question is both asked and answered by Chesterton in the essay.

What are some quotations that are often attributed to Chesterton but aren’t really from him?


  • “Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.” (Source unknown, but possibly a variation of Chesterton’s line “Bigotry is…”)

  • “A man knocking on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” (Bruce Marshall, Scottish novelist, in the book The World, The Flesh, and Father Smith)

  • “If you’re not a socialist by the time you’re 20, you have no heart. And if you’re still one by the time you’re 40, you have no brain.” (Source unknown)



Was Father Brown modeled after a real person?
Yes, the character Father Brown is modeled after Father John O’Connor, the priest Chesterton met in 1903 and who eventually received Chesterton into the Catholic Church.