G.K. Chesterton’s essay “What Is Eugenics?” (1922)

G. K. Chesterton. 1922. What is Eugenics? essay

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was a well-known essayist in Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was a critic of eugenics, as well as a critic of many other issues. Chesterton’s essay, “What is Eugenics?,” is a much cited essay on the subject and merits reading.

Chesterton was criticised for anti-semitism, and his language in “What is Eugenics” will strike the modern reader as offensive. His essay is made available here as a primary historical source meriting critical study. Other editions are available. The text is online, too. Chesterton’s essay likely was the spark for Leonard Darwin to use the same title for his pro-eugenics popular book, What is Eugenics?, in 1928.

This particular copy shows the signed of close reading. Marginalia comments are by an unknown contemporary hand who had a clear antipathy for Chesterton’s views.

Source: Chesterton, Gilbert Keith. 1922. What Is Eugenics? in Chesterton, Gilbert Keith (ed.). Eugenics and Other Evils. London, Cassell and Company: pp. 3-11.