Chesterton Library is a registered charity (Charity No. 1134101).
Chesterton was one of the best-known and best-loved Christian writers of the
Catholic Literary Revival in the first half of the twentieth century. The
collection held in Oxford was mainly built up by Mr Aidan
Mackey, whose original
hope was to house it at a study centre that might have been located in
Chesterton's home in Beaconsfield. Unfortunately Top Meadow passed into private
hands. For a while the Library was held at Westminster College, a Methodist
college in Oxford where Stratford Caldecott was directing the Centre for Faith
& Culture from 1994 and was able to act as curator. The Library moved with
the Centre to Plater College in Oxford (formerly known as the Catholic Workers'
College) when Stratford transferred there in 1998, and thence (in 2002, after
the closure of Plater College) to King Street in Oxfordís Jericho district,
near to the city centre, with the generous support of the G.K. Chesterton
Institute at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. It is now (from 2007)
maintained with the help of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, as part of
the work of the collegeís Oxford centre directed by Stratford Caldecott.
In the longer term, it is hoped that the Chesterton collection will find
a permanent home in the planned library of the Oratory of St Philip Neri in
Oxford, which will be dedicated to the Catholic Revival.
relatively small, the collection is highly significant. It does not include
Chestertonís letters and manuscripts, which are held in the British Library.
St Paulís School in London and the church of St Teresa in Beaconsfield also
possess collections of Chestertoniana. Nevertheless
it has a remarkable range of material (it also contains small holdings related
to other writers, including Dawson, Newman, and Tolkien). Some of the contents
are on permanent loan from either the British Library or the Homeland Foundation
in the United States. Other materials owned by Mr Mackey are still held at his
home in Bedford.
(Russian translator of G.K. Chesterton) and John Kanu (founder of the Sierra
Leone Chesterton Centre) in the Chesterton Library.
Toy theatre pieces
drawn by Chesterton.
More toy theatre
Aidan Mackey and his
daughter, Patricia Baker-Cassidy, owner of Art Jericho.
list is complicated, and what follows is merely a haphazard summary of what is
at present a rather chaotic collection. A
full, professional and electronic catalogue is in preparation, and we hope will
be completed in 2009.
including hat, typewriter, 2 walking sticks, some souvenirs of GKC's various
trips abroad, a plaster bust, study chair and barberís chair, GKC's writing
table, rosary beads, pen, a pair of pince-nez, a letter from Pope Pius XI
making him a Knight of St Gregory, his personalized travelling suitcase, various
portraits and photos of GKC, ugly madonnas, D.Litt gown, homburg hat, toy
A complete run of
Chesterton's own annotated and illustrated copies of 'GK's Weekly'
(starting as 'The Eye Witness') in somewhat ragged bindings in 52 large
volumes, containing some annotations by GKC (bookmarked).
An extensive background
library built up by Aidan Mackey of books by contemporary and related
writers, including Belloc, McNabb, and two fine editions of engravings by Eric
Gill. Approx. 400 volumes.
50 box files of Aidan
Mackeyís newspaper cuttings, newsletters and ephemera from the various
literary societies around the world, including some related to the Inklings,
plus cassette tapes and some microfiche material.
Unclear how much if any of this relates directly to GKC.
(a) one small theatre GKC bought in Spain in the 1930s complete with printed
scripts in English (box somewhat damaged), plus (b) a collection of scenery and
figures that he made for a much larger one of his own (the frame constructed by
his father has been misplaced by the British Library along with Chestertonís
cloak, but these may still turn up), and some wooden pieces also made for a toy
A few other drawings
by GKC, including his earliest known drawing done at the age of seven and
showing considerable talent, and the heads of three finger-puppets that
Chesterton made and painted.
Assorted books by
GKC, including some first editions and many duplicates, a complete run of 'The
Chesterton Review', and 20 volumes of the Ignatius Press Collected Works.
Bound runs of other
newspapers that GKC occasionally wrote for, such as the London 'Mercury'.
diaries and box-file notes kept by Chesterton's
secretary, listing the people he met and letters he wrote at various times.
A fragile collection
of newspaper cuttings concerning the Marconi case of 1911-12 made at the
time by H.D.C. Pepler.
The original of a
famous photo of GKC by Howard Coster on high-quality card and designed by
An original autograph of GKC, mounted.
Just over 100 volumes
from GKC's own book collection (taken with permission from Top Meadow after the
death of Dorothy Collins), with numerous scribbles and cartoons by him in the
margins, never catalogued or documented in detail, but bookmarked by Aidan
Mackey. Also GKCís annotated edition of Sir Oliver Lodge's Catechism Substance
of Faith referred to in Orthodoxy, plus other items bought by Aidan
from Peter Cassidy and listed separately, including two issues of The Debater
from St Paulís School. GKCís school copy of Arnoldís Latin Prose
Composition, Part 2, extensively doodled upon and within.
books by and about GKC: Russian, Japanese, Spanish, French, etc. Approx. 350
A small library of
books and papers connected with Distributism and the history of the Distributist
League, with related material on alternative economics and Catholic and Anglican
social thinking. Approx. 100 volumes plus a shelf of pamphlets, newsletters,
journals. Includes the Distributist League papers.
items - pictures, photos, drawings, manuscript poems, etc.
of Chesterton's printed books and pamphlets, many being first editions.
Several are either signed by G.K. or carry his
bookplate; a couple are signed by Frances, including the Autobiography
which she inscribed for Mrs Cecil ('Keith') Chesterton - significant
because of Keith's attitude and her dreadful book, The Chestertons. Several others came from Top Meadow
and are signed by Dorothy Collins. There is also a copy of Captain Webster's Through
New Guinea and Other Cannibal Countries, a sought-after work in its
own right, which G.K. 'ghosted' (see his letter to Frances, quoted by
Maisie Ward, p. 69), and the story written for Gilbert and Cecil by their
father, The Wonderful Story of Dunder van
Haeden and His Seven Daughters, which, in his autobiography,
Gilbert declared was never published - but this copy is inscribed by Edward
vols Sullivan bibliography.
relating to Chesterton and his age.
books and pamphlets.
40 box files of research papers.