Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The G. K. Chesterton Library

Welcome to the Home Page of Oxford's G. K. Chesterton Librarya study centre previously maintained by the Centre for Faith & Culture, then by the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture at Seton Hall University, NJ, and now by the Trustees of the Library with the support of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, NH. Senior Fellows of the Library are Mr Aidan Mackey, Revd Ian Boyd CSB, and Mr Dale Ahlquist. 

The collection was recently moved to its new home in the library building of the Oxford Oratory at 25 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HA, but is still in the process of being unpacked and organized. Over the last few years the collection itself has been viewed by special arrangement with the Trustees (example). Funding is now needed to shelve and display the collection, so that it can be made accessible to scholars and pilgrims in the new location. 

We are excited to be partners with the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society, the Charles Williams Society, and the Owen Barfield Estate in sponsoring the Journal of Inklings Studies from May 2013, a peer-reviewed academic journal on the Inklings and their intellectual and religious debts and legacies.

Get a taste of the collection from Second Spring on Instagram, follow us on Twitter, find us on Facebook, and DONATE to preserve the collection:

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Gilbert Chesterton was a popular man of letters, a journalist, a poet, an artist, a traveller, a novelist, a philosopher. But he died in 1936. Why is he still so important... perhaps increasingly so?

He was one of the best – and most amusing – writers and thinkers of the twentieth century, and one of the strongest defender of the ideas on which Western civilization is founded. (See "Larger than Life".)

What is more, the quality of clarity and joy which we find in almost every page of Chesterton’s writing, intangible though it may be in terms of a practical impact on society, is a most precious legacy: the secret of lasting happiness, the responsibility of freedom, and the joyful duty of thanksgiving and praise.

The recent 2014 International Chesterton Conference, "Sanity and Sanctity", took place at a time when many are discussing the possibility of Chesterton's canonization, which in turn raises the question of his relevance to our times and to the wider world.
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The Chesterton Library is dedicated to maintaining a study centre through which interest in GKC will be encouraged and scholarship promoted. More and more books are being written about this gentle English giant (most recently the magisterial Oxford University Press biography by Revd Ian Ker), and you can read more about him by following the links on the right. These links tell a story. The UK Chestertonians are working ever more closely with Chestertonians abroad – not just Americans, but with Italians and Africans.

These groups are of a practical nature. The Italians have started small schools and farms. They in turn are linked to Chestertonians in Sierra Leone (not yet described here) who are developing projects for rural education. Further details will follow on our Distributism pages. The head of the Sierra Leone project is John Kanu, who studied in Oxford and became interested in Chesterton after studying at the Library before it was moved from Plater College. It remains to be seen whether European Distributists take heart from the African example.

There is plenty of potential. The Oxford Oratory offers a brilliant location for the growing collection of books, and a study centre dedicated to research into the Literary Revival that was so much wider than just Chesterton and his followers.

As for why dandelions...