Collection C1 - G.K. Chesterton Archival Collection

Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00389 C1


G.K. Chesterton Archival Collection


  • 1888-1978 (Creation)
  • 1874-1936 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

ca. 2000 microfiche and other material.

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Archival history

Chesterton's papers were held in trust for many years by his secretary, Dorothy Collins, near his home in Beaconsfield, England. At her death in 1989 the papers were acquired by the British Library; this is the largest collection of the Chesterton manuscripts in the world. The Kelly Library owns microfiche copies of the entire collection (over 2000 microfiche).

The original illustrations by Chesterton came from the collection of Reverend Kevin Scannell who received the material from Chesterton's secretary Dorothy Collins.

The papers of Monsignor John O'Connor came from the collection Reverend Kevin Scannell.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection consists of manuscripts of many published works, illustrations from Chesterton's time at the Slade School of Art and later, correspondence with family and friends, and albums of press clippings. There are also microfiche copies of the papers of Chesterton's wife Frances (1875-1938), including her plays and poems. Additionally, the collection contains material added by Dorothy Collins after Chesterton's death.
In addition to the Chesterton papers on microfiche the G.K. Chesterton Archival Collection contains 10 original illustrations as well as one of Chesterton's sketchbooks. Most of the sketches date from his period at the Slade School of Art, but there are several from earlier.
The Papers of Monsignor John O'Connor (1870-1952) are also a part of the G.K. Chesterton Archival Collection. Monsignor O'Connor was the Catholic priest who became the model for Chesterton's character "Father Brown". In February 1903 O'Connor wrote to Chesterton, and the following year they formed an immediate bond of friendship which was to last more than thirty years. In 1921 O'Connor was present at Chesterton's reception into the Catholic Church. The papers of Monsignor O'Connor include a number of manuscripts of his poems and essays, Christmas greetings from the Chesterton's, personal letters, and newspaper clippings by and about Chesterton.

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Language of material

  • English

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Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

The British Library, London, England.

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

The John M. Kelly Library at the University of St. Michael's College has the G.K. Chesterton Collection which over 3000 volumes connected with his life and work. More information can be found here:

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Revised by S Rogers, 4 July 2019.




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