New York: Sheed & Ward, 1943. Third printing. Thick octavo (8 5/8 inches tall), original red cloth, original dust jacket. Minor shelf wear to bottom of cloth boards, toning to unclipped, still bright dust jacket. A near-fine copy. Item #158
"THE BOOK IS LARGE BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OF GETTING CHESTERTON ON TO THE CANVAS"
Third printing of Maisie Ward's popular Life of G. K. Chesterton—printed only three months after the first.
As the daughter of Newman's biographer, Wilfrid Ward, and the granddaughter of William George ("Ideal") Ward, Maisie Ward was a member of one of England's most illustrious Catholic families. In 1926, Ward and her husband, Frank Sheed, founded the Catholic publishing house of Sheed & Ward; the firm was first established in London before relocating to New York in 1933. Ward's authorized and definitive Life of Chesterton took six years to complete after his death in 1936 and "contains much unpublished material: prose, verse, letters, drawings" (John Sullivan). With a valuable Introduction (Chiefly Concerning Sources) wherein Ward discusses the difficulty of wading through the sources: "Gathering material for a biography bears some resemblance to interrogating witnesses in a Court of Law. There are good witnesses and bad: reliable and unreliable memories." The book is printed on laid paper and illustrated with a frontispiece photograph ("Chesterton's Monument designed by Eric Gill") and 12 additional plates, including Chesterton's youthful self-caricature (reproduced on the front board). The text is supplemented with three Appendices, a Bibliography, and an Index. First published in New York (preceding the first British edition) in August 1943 and popular enough to warrant two additional printings in the first three months. After the war Ward would publish a second Chesterton biography (Return to Chesterton, 1952), "made up chiefly of unpublished letters, verses and jeux d'espirit of Chesterton's." Menendez, The Road to Rome: An Annotated Bibliography, 672. Sullivan, G. K. Chesterton: A Bibliography, 410, 782. A handsome copy.