G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown Stories: the Debt to Sherlock Holmes

No fictional detective provides a more obvious contrast to the figure of Sherlock Holmes than G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown. Where Holmes is keen-eyed, sharp-featured and manifestly shrewd, Father Brown is described as having “a face as round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling” and “eyes as empty as the North Sea” (Innocence, 9). However, one could say these outward differences are so strongly marked that they actually constitute a kind of deliberate homage to the earlier writer. Indeed, I think there is no doubt that Chesterton owed a great deal to Conan Doyle and we don’t have to look far in his critical writings to see that he acknowledged as much.

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