Born on 27th of July 1870
Died in Guildford, Surrey
Died on 16th of July 1953
Quotes from Hilaire Belloc
'We wander for distraction, but'... More
Though Belloc was born in France (his mother English, father French), and he only became a naturalised Briton in his early thirties, he was to become a very British figure, educated at Baliol, President of the Oxford Union, and in 1906 a Liberal MP. Much against the establishment, however, Catholicism was the guiding force of his life, summed up by his dictum: “The faith is Europe and Europe is the faith.”
Born in 1870 near Versailles Belloc came to England in 1872 after the death of his father, the family fortunes already ruined in the Franco-Prussian War. Brought up in Sussex and educated at Newman's Oratory School in Birmingham he nevertheless did French military service before going up to Oxford as a history scholar. A big man, very fit and with the confidence of a soldier, he made an immediate impact there, famously winning a debate with a brilliant speech from the floor.
Belloc was part of what might be regarded as a silver generation of Edwardian writers: GK Chesterton and John Buchan (both friends of his); Arnold Bennett; George Bernard Shaw; John Galsworthy; and his regular nemesis HG Wells, with whom he carried on a lengthy polemic – Wells the socialist and Darwinian the polar opposite of Belloc the Catholic and enemy of much that was modern.
He wrote on a multitude of subjects, openly admitting that his main aim was to earn money for his family needs, as writing was his only source of income. Stylistically his language is very carefully chosen in spite of the sheer volume he produced, and for his time it was determinedly simple and uncluttered. Belloc produced poetry, travelogues, essays, criticism, works on economics, histories – managing to annoy both Muslims and Jews - and some very partial biographies. But ironically this often very serious writer is best remembered for his works for children: The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts and most memorably the dark yet whimsical Cautionary Tales.
The happiest years of his life were spent as a boy at Slindon in West Sussex, and as a family man at Shipley in the same county. In 1941 he suffered a massive stroke, but survived for another twelve years, dying in Guildford on July 16 1953.
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