Hilaire Belloc (Joseph Hilaire Pierre Belloc) Biography
(1870–1953), (Joseph Hilaire Pierre Belloc), The Speaker, The Bad Child's Book of Beasts
British writer, born in France to a French father and an English mother; he was educated at Balliol College, Oxford. Belloc took up journalism, contributing articles to The Speaker, a political and literary journal, sometimes in collaboration with Chesterton, and soon earned a reputation as a writer of great versatility in both prose and poetry. His verses for children, which included The Bad Child's Book of Beasts (1896), More Beasts for Worse Children (1896), and Cautionary Tales for Children (1907), became justly famous. More serious lyrics were contained in Verses and Sonnets (1896, later withdrawn), Sonnets and Verses (1923), and Complete Verse (edited by W. N. Roughead, 1954). From 1906 to 1909 he was literary editor of the Morning Post during which period he was also Liberal MP for Salford; he disliked party politics, however, and attacked the values of contemporary society, often with his friend Chesterton, in Pongo and the Bull (1910), The Servile State (1912), and his paper The Eye-Witness (1911). Like Chesterton he was a staunch Catholic, arguing that cause in Europe and Faith (1920). As a historian, he wrote The French Revolution (1911), a succession of biographies of its principal historical figures, as well as lives of Charles I (1933) and Cromwell (1934); all are better known for their vitality than their impartiality. His travel books include The Cruise of the Nona (1925); The Path to Rome (1902), an account of a pilgrimage on foot from the Moselle Valley to the Vatican, for which Belloc provided his own illustrations; Paris (1900), Sussex (1906), and The Pyrenees (1909). His novels, some of which were illustrated by Chesterton, included Mr Clutterbuck's Election (1908), The Girondin (1911), The Green Overcoat (1912), and Belinda (1928), an original and touching love story. A biography by A. N. Wilson was published in 1984.