Monday, March 17, 2008

GKCleveland's First Meeting

As reported in the March issue of Gilbert, there is a new Chesterton society in Cleveland, (see pg. 15) who is lucky enough to have a G.K. Chesterton room where they can meet and stare at Chesterton's large portrait on the wall while talking about him.

The most interesting item, to me, buried in the second last paragraph of that article, was the report of a small hand-drawn booklet, made for Sheila Matier of California (age 9) containing the original poem "The Three Conquistadors".

This poem was mentioned in Maisie Ward's biography of Chesterton, and part of the poem was reprinted, but not the entire thing. People have been searching for this poem for a long time. Including me.

At one point in my duties as a Chestertonian, I was put to the task of trying to find this person and possibly this manuscript. I went down a bunch of dead ends for a year or more. And now, I have come to discover that according to Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, that TWO such manuscripts have been located!

The first is, as Gilbert recorded, in the collection of Chestertoniana at the Special Collections of the John Carroll University just outside Cleveland. The membership at the first GKCleveland got to see this manuscript with their own eyes (and possibly in their own hands) during that first meeting. (I wonder, did it smell like cigar smoke?!)

According to Dale, there is a second, possibly identical manuscript in the Huntington Library in Los Angeles!

I would be very curious to know how two such items came into existence. Does anyone know any more about this?


  1. I can confirm that we held this manuscript in our own hands, that is if I am thinking of the same manuscript you mentioned.

    Actually, if I remember correctly, there were two manuscripts: One of them was a bit of a story book which I don't remember very well. The other was a collection of illustrations depicting several different persons of different ethnic backgrounds including an Indian, an African, and a Mexican in such a way that violated every possible rule of political correctness.

  2. The one I mentioned would be the story book.

    Dale has informed me that he has copies of both original stories of the Three Conquistadors, and he's going to compare them. They are both dedicated to Sheila Matier.


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