The Very First Chesterton Society

You never know who you’re going to meet at an American Chesterton Society Conference. At 2010 conference in Emmitsburg, Maryland I met the founder of the world’s first Chesterton Society. He is the Jesuit Priest, Fr. Peter Milward and the very first Chesterton Society was founded (of all places) in Tokyo, Japan in 1966 or 1967. Wow. Under Fr. Milward’s leadership, the Tokyo Chesterton Society has published 15 volumes of Chesterton translated into Japanese. I feel like such a sluggard! Fr. Milward is a delightful man of 85 years and at least seems happy to engage in conversation with sluggards. He will probably spend little time in Purgatory.

Fr. Milward had studied The Classics of Greece and thought he’d teach that, but when it turned out he was to be posted to Tokyo, he was given the choice of History or English. He chose English. In preparation for that, he studied English Literature at Oxford. Get this: he was a student of both CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien while he was there. Milward is mainly known as a Shakespearian scholar, but noticed GKC along the way. He has written extensively on the Catholicism of Shakespeare and 1968 edited a book published in both English and Japanese of Chesterton’s essays on Shakespeare called (surprisingly enough) Essays on Shakespeare by GK Chesterton.

This scholarship formed the basis of the talk Fr. Milward gave at the conference, which I will summarize as best I can in another post.

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