The Age of Enchantment: Beardsley, Dulac and their Contemporaries 1890-1930 is at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London SE21, from November 28 until February 17. Details: 020-8693 5254.
I'll pass on rereading "The Little White Bird" – once was enough; it's too weird and far too depressing for mothers — but I did just pull our copy of Chesterton's Orthodoxy from the shelf to reread his essay "The Ethics of Elfland." Chesterton always seems like a slightly mad old relative, someone I love yet utterly lose patience with, often within the same paragraph; it's difficult not to love someone who could pen this:
" ... when we are very young children we do not need fairy tales; we only need tales. Mere life is interesting enough. A child of seven is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door and saw a dragon. But a child of three is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door."
Much else in the essay makes me want to close the door in the author's face. But then he comes knocking again with The Man Who Was Thursday or his writings on Dickens, and I let him back in. My connection with Chesterton runs deep — a family friend knew him, and I inherited a signed photograph of GKC that has pride of place at Tooley Cottage, along with a mass card from Chesterton's funeral that bears this injunction:
By the Grace of God
PRAY FOR THE SOUL
Gilbert Keith Chesterton