Description of the Collection
The material is presented in the order given below. It covers the period from ca 1880 to 1986.
Section A, Biographical:This section consists primarily of correspondence, notes, draft papers and photographs assembled by David L. Baker in the course of writing a biography of A. K. Chesterton. Ideology of Obsession: A. K. Chesterton and British Fascism, was published in 1996, but Baker began researching Chesterton as early as 1977 when he was a postgraduate student at the University of Sheffield. As part of his research he conducted a lengthy correspondence with Chesterton’s widow, Doris, and she provided him with extensive notes on Chesterton’s life, career and character. Baker also corresponded with several of Chesterton’s colleagues and political associates, such as Rosine De Bounevialle and Aidan Mackey, as well as journalists and commentators.The section also contains a number of testimonials and tributes retained by Chesterton during his lifetime and passed to Baker by his widow during the late 1970s and early 1980s.For Chesterton’s autobiographical writings see Section B.
Section B, Writings:This section contains a very small sample of Chesterton’s published and unpublished writings. Chesterton was known as a writer, journalist and commentator long before his political activities came to overshadow his work as a theatre critic and literary reviewer. As early as 1920, whilst working for the Johannesburg Star, he demonstrated a natural talent for journalism and by the late 1920s, at the Stratford Herald, he had already acquired a reputation as a passionate, unflinching and polished writer.For further writings see Section D.
Section C, League of Empire Loyalists:This sub-section contains scrapbooks compiled by members of the League of Empire Loyalists. They mostly comprise newspaper cuttings, publicity material and campaigning literature. They also contain ‘programmes’ or lists of instructions for members engaged in orchestrated stunts. These usually took place at political meetings or events and involved various members of the League interrupting the speakers by means of pre-arranged actions such as emerging from beneath the speaking platform. They often resulted in League members being physically removed from the venue.
Section D, Candour and other political publications:This section contains copies of political journals, newspapers and other publications to which Chesterton was a frequent contributor, mostly during the period immediately following World War II. Since Chesterton had been a writer before he became a political activist, advocating his political philosophy through the regular publication of his thoughts and ideas seemed to come naturally to him. So much so that when available publications failed to offer him the platform he desired, he established his own views-sheet entitled Candour.For further writings see Section B.
Section E, Correspondence:This section contains letters and associated papers sent and received by A. K. Chesterton during the period from 1931 up to his death in August 1973. The correspondence relates to a broad range of topics including literary criticism, Shakespeare, journalism, extreme right-wing movements in the UK, military service, the administrative management of the League of Empire Loyalists, the National Front, various legal proceedings and libel actions in which Chesterton was involved (including a dispute arising from the will of Robert K. Jeffery), the composition and circulation of Candour, the publication and sale of Chesterton’s writings, issues of racial supremacy, anti-Semitism and other matters of nationalist political theory. Chesterton’s correspondents included G. Wilson Knight and Oswald Mosley.
There is also an index of correspondents.