• For all but the greatest, lame is of brief endurance. But I would never have expected to see "Keith" Chesterton, as her friends and family called her, described as "a sister-in-law of G. K. Chesterton" (Catholic Herald, "Caring for 'wounded people'," February 6).
Such indeed she was: but MCC important than the fact that she was GKC's only sister-in-law is the fact that she was the wife, and then the widow, of his brilliant and heroic. brother. Cecil Chesterton.
But even so. Keith does not deserve to be identified in terms of her relationship with anyone else. Having earned her living as a fearless and able newspaper reporter from the age of 16, she 'became famous as the ablest woman, and one of the ablest journalists, in Fleet Street.
Ada Elizabeth Jones, whose father and brother were both journalists, was on her mother's side related to Sheridan. She married Cecil Chesterton in 1916: but he died in France, serving as a private soldier, in 1918.
When Cecil went to the front, Keith assumed responsibility for the production of his weekly, The New Witness, with GKC as the "absentee" foram teams for the editor. Previously she had contributed to Belloe's paper The EyeWitness; later she was the dramatic critic for GK's Weekly,
In 1925 her book "In Darkest London", written out of her own experiince of an assumed destitution, led to the foundation of the Cecil Houses, named after her husband and in memory of his unceasing concern for the under-dog and the down-and-out.
Her biography "Saint Teresa" attained a very wide popularity: earlier, under her nom-de-plume "John Keith Prothero", in an attempt to draw attention to some
anomalies in the Iaw of hbel, she had published a novel in which all the characters bore the names of distinguished living persons, Her travel book "My Russian Adventure(1931) is still worth reading. Her last hook, "The Chestertons" (1941) is marred by faults of memory she was then 70 or thereabouts and bias where Frances and Gilbert Chesterton are concerned. Nevertheless, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the Chestertons. and contains much information that will not be found elsewhere.
During the war of 1939-1945 Mrs Cecil Chesterton was received into the Catholic Church by Fr Vincent McNabb, OP, one of her husband's closest friends and greatest admirers. In 1938 she was awarded the OBE in recognition of her work on behalf of destitute women.
She died in January, 1962, and The Times gave her an obituary notice of full-column length, with a photograph. Her age at the time of her death is uncertain. because there is no record of her birth at Somerset House, lier relatives believe that she died in her 991h year.
I think that Mrs Cecil, whom I remember well, would have been wryly amused to find herself described as "a sister-in-law of Gilbert Keith Chesterton". Perhaps, Sir, you would make amends by allowing me to ask your It ind readers to support the splendid work being done by the Cecil Houses and Qubs, which are now her own memorial as well as her husband's,
Their latest annual report is freel)' available on request (please enclose a 6fp stamp) from Cecil Houses Inc, 190-192 Kensal Road, London, W10.
Brocard Sewell, 0 Cunt Whitefritirs, Charlton Kings.