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Arthur Kenneth Chesterton Collection

A collection of the papers and correspondence of Arthur Kenneth Chesterton (1899-1973), journalist, writer and political activist.


Members of the League of Empire Loyalists, c 1957 (CHESTERTON C/1)
Members of the League of Empire Loyalists, c 1957 (CHESTERTON C/1)

Arthur Kenneth Chesterton (‘A.K.’) was born in Krugerdorp, South Africa. During World War I he served with distinction in France and was awarded the Military Cross in 1918. He subsequently worked as a journalist, first in Johannesburg and then in the UK, where he became increasingly interested in and involved with local politics.

By 1933, fully committed to extreme right-wing politics, Chesterton had joined the British Union of Fascists quickly becoming one of its leading spokesmen and editor of Blackshirt. Critical of the methods employed to attain its ideals, Chesterton resigned from the Union in 1938. On the outbreak of World War II, he volunteered for active service and was sent to northern Kenya.

In 1954 Chesterton established the League of Empire Loyalists, a political pressure group whose direct action stunts and ‘interventions’ received widespread publicity and attracted the attention of a new generation of fascists, nationalists and right-wing extremists. In 1967 when the League merged with the British National Party, the Greater Britain Movement and the Radical Preservation Society to form the National Front, Chesterton was invited to become its first chairman.

The collection contains a range of material relating to various aspects of A. K. Chesterton’s later life including interviews with colleagues and his widow, examples of his literary, journalistic and political writings, papers, correspondence, scrapbooks and publications documenting the activities of the League of Empire Loyalists and copies of his view-sheet, Candour.

The collection was donated to the University of Bath in January 2009 by David L. Baker.

A catalogue providing contents details of the Chesterton Collection is available in PDF format.

Size: 6 boxes, c 256 items.


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