Ronald Knox's influence on Chesterton

Ronald Knox contributions as an influencer of Chesterton and the author of the ten commandments for the Detection Club have largely been forgotten. (essay by Benjamin Welton)

Dean of Detective Fiction’s Decalogue: An Appreciation for Monsignor Ronald Knox

Ronald Knox, like his fellow Englishman G.K. Chesterton, was both a Roman Catholic and a detective fiction writer. Originally, it was Chesterton’s writing that lead Knox, a former Anglican priest at Trinity College, Oxford, towards converting to Catholicism. When Knox converted in 1917, Chesterton was still the Anglican son of a somewhat apathetic Unitarian family. Later, after Chesterton became a Catholic in 1922, the stream of influence switched course and Chesterton began to come under the joyful sway of Knox. Knox even delivered the gripping homily for Chesterton’s requiem mass at Westminster Cathedral in 1936.

In most Roman Catholic and conservative circles, Chesterton is justly lionized as one of the twentieth century’s greatest champions of Christian compassion and clear-headed reason. While the rest of the world was falling under the spells of irrational science, unquestioned technological advancement, and deeply atheistic politics, Chesterton was the strongest and brightest light in the forest, and because of that The Imaginative Conservative and other likeminded publications spend much of their time and effort highlighting the eternal truths espoused by the jolly and rotund man from Kensington.

Comparatively, Knox has flown somewhat under the radar. Although the Ronald Knox Society of North America maintains a website dedicated to his legacy and accomplishments, far too few articles or papers have been written about this fascinating Englishman.

Continue reading this essay here.