New York: Sheed & Ward, 1943. First edition. Octavo, original teal cloth, original dust jacket. Penciled signature to blank flyleaf of about-fine book, scarce unclipped dust jacket with minor wear to spine ends and corners. Item #847
"THE BOOK IS LARGE BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OF GETTING CHESTERTON ON TO THE CANVAS" First edition of Maisie Ward's salute to G.K. Chesterton, the first of her two biographies of Chesterton. Maisie Ward—as the daughter of Newman's biographer, Wilfrid Ward, and the grand-daughter of William George ("Ideal") 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 Ward's authorized and definitive life of Chesterton took six years to complete and "contains much unpublished material: prose, verse, letters, drawings" (John Sullivan). With a valuable Introduction (Chiefly Concerning Sources) wherein the author 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." Printed on laid paper and illustrated with a frontispiece photograph ("Chesterton's Monument designed by Eric Gill") and 12 plates, including Chesterton's youthful self-caricature (reproduced on the front board). With three Appendices, a Bibliography, and an Index. First published in August,1943 (preceding the first British edition) 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 After the war, Ward would publish a second Chesterton biography (Return to Chesterton, 1952), "made up chiefly of unpublished letters, verses and jeux d'espirit of Chesterton's." Menendez, The Road to Rome: An Annotated Bibliography, 672.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.