Our October Artifact of the Month features the newspaper GK’s Weekly, a periodical that G.K. Chesterton edited, contributed to, and even bears his name in the title. Original issues of the paper are rare, but the Wade Center owns a complete run which visitors can access by request in the Wade Center Reading Room, along with a contents listing for every issue. Exploring the paper offers a unique view into the context of British society in the early 20th century, as well as the mind of G.K. Chesterton.
G.K.’s Weekly was a British newspaper headed by G.K. Chesterton from 1925 until his death in 1936. Chesterton was already an experienced journalist and had managed a previous paper called New Witness leading up to the launch of G.K.’s Weekly. The paper contained commentary on political, cultural, and social issues, as well as poems, cartoons, and fiction. The variety of content is difficult to categorize, as difficult indeed as it is to define Chesterton himself. His distinctive style is noticeable throughout. Along with Chesterton and a dedicated small staff of workers for the paper, other contributors included Ronald Knox, J.B. Morton, Walter de la Mare, Patrick Cahill, G.B. Shaw, Maurice Baring, Hilaire Belloc, Eric Gill, and Vincent McNabb.
In a period of severe economic, social, and political upheaval in Britain’s history, Chesterton viewed his work as a writer and a journalist as a way to champion the rights of the common man, and push against the ills which he believed accompanied the rampant urbanization and industrialization prevalent in Britain at the time. The Weekly served as the perfect platform from which to promote these goals. Distributism, the ideology at the heart of G.K.’s Weekly that was shared by Chesterton and others, focuses on private ownership, the value of small businesses, disengagement from usurious financial practices, governance within local communities consisting of families and small business owners (rather than by large government), and distribution of property in the widest possible way.
Thirty issues of G.K.’s Weekly have been republished in the volume, G.K.’s Weekly: A Sampler (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1986), which is available for sale at the Wade and was edited by Lyle Dorsett, the second Director of the Wade Center. Dorsett writes the following about G.K.’s Weekly in his introduction to the book:
“It is commonly said that there is nothing so out of date as yesterday’s newspaper … [but] for those who know and love the writings of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, this weekly that bears his initials contains some of his scarcest prose, making the reprinting of this weekly paper a service to people who appreciate the late Englishman’s work.”
-Lyle W. Dorsett
As any Chesterton enthusiast can tell you, his writing continues to challenge, delight, and inspire long after the day when G.K.’s Weekly first appeared on the local newsstand.
In celebration of G.K.’s Weekly as our October Artifact of the Month, we are pleased to offer a FREE copy of G.K.’s Weekly: A Sampler to Wade Center visitors who refer to this blog post during the month of October. So be sure to mention this blog post when you visit (sorry, no free copies via mail) and receive your free copy; limit of one per family. Hope to see you soon!