Hilaire Belloc

1870 –

Born near Paris, France, on July 27, 1870, Hilaire Belloc was raised in England, but remained a French citizen until 1902. His father, Louis Belloc, was an esteemed French lawyer and his mother, Elizabeth Rayner Parkes, was well-known in English literary circles.

Belloc attended Cardinal Newman's Preparatory school, where he was greatly influenced by the rigid Catholic schooling and gained a foundation in the classics and historical studies. In 1892, Belloc left school for a year to join the French Artillery Service in France. After this, he returned to England and resumed his studies at Baillol College, Oxford. A boisterous and opinionated student, Belloc was said to fuel long discussions with his peers while avidly working on his historical studies.

Belloc published two books of verse in 1896: A Bad Child's Book of Beasts and Sonnets. For the next few years he moved between the worlds of politics and journalism, serving on the House of Commons and as editor of the Morning Post. Later he became the editor of The Eye-Witness, a political weekly which attacked corruption and the political establishment and featured contributions by George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, and Belloc's friend, G.K. Chesterton. Belloc was also a successful novelist and historian, publishing Mr. Clutterbuck's Election (1908), A Change in the Cabinet (1909), Pongo and the Bull (1910), The French Revolution (1911), and History of England (1915). During World War I, he worked for the War Propaganda Bureau and was a correspondent on the Western front. He was a staunch supporter of Britain's involvement in the war, but he lost many friends and his son in combat.

After the war, Belloc (a devout Roman Catholic) wrote a series of historical biographies and religious texts. In 1942 he suffered a stroke, which left him debilitated for the next eleven years, until his death on July 16, 1953.