CHESTERTON, Gilbert Keith (1874-1936). Series of 22 autograph letters signed to E.C. Bentley, Arromanches, London, St Leonards, North Berwick, Paris, Littlehampton, Ventnor, Florence, Brighton and Ault, 10 November 1888 - 1896, many incompletely dated, enclosing autograph manuscripts of three poems, also including five sketches, altogether 89 pages, 8vo and 4to (three letters apparently incomplete; occasional browning and light soiling), cloth-covered box; together with G.K. Chesterton (illust.). Mr Chesterton Comes to Tea. Cambridge, Rampant Lions Press: 1978.
Letters to a school-friend: the letters begin with typical schoolboy humour, indulging in bathos, snobbishness and a fondness for long words. Gradually, however, something characteristic of Chesterton emerges, in appreciations of Treasure Island ('a work of considerable power'), raptures over Venice ('a city whose very slums are full of palaces'), delight in literary work ('a story of any length is like making so many new friends'), and jeux d'ésprit, as with a report from the Isle of Wight that 'Neither the Queen nor the Poet Laureate have called on me yet. No doubt they feel a little shy, at first ...'.
The evolution of the handwriting is interesting, breaking into the full flower of Chesterton's mature style quite suddenly only in 1895, in the earliest letter in which he addresses Bentley by his Christian name. The poems enclosed are juvenilia: 'An Ode In the manner of the early poems of the late Lord Byron composed on a Noble Family quitting their ancient seat', 'The Joys of Science' and one untitled. (2)