The Woman Question
At 26 years old, G.K. Chesterton wrote that the world in 1901 was "full of the trampling of totally new forces." One of these "new forces" was commonly called the Woman Question:
Should women be allowed to receive higher education? Should they be allowed to vote and take part in politics? What about women being employed equally with men in the business world?
Chesterton agreed with the conservative views of most of his male peers on these questions, but not always for their reasons. Chesterton was not afraid of women, and he did not consider it his God-given right to rule over them. He merely believed that, while women could achieve many things out in the world, they were at their happiest and best in the home. At least this was the case for his mother and his wife.
Chesterton did not grow up in a religious home. Nevertheless, his home provided a shelter from the outside world, and his parents (and brother, Cecil) formed a close-knit, loving family. It was here that his views of women seem to have been formed.
Cecil called his brother's childhood "the happiest in literature." The permissive parents let the two boys roam and play to their hearts' content in the roomy house and garden. Mr. Chesterton ran the family real estate business, and Mrs. Chesterton busied herself with ordering the household activities. Instead of sending their sons away to boarding school, the Chestertons kept them at home. The parents refused to be separated from them.
Chesterton enjoyed a childhood in which he immersed himself in fairy tales and made puppets for a toy theater his father had made. One of Chesterton's closest childhood friends, Edmund Bentley, remarked that "he had never met with parental devotion or conjugal sympathy more strong than they ...