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I was born in Florence on October12,
1889, the son of the famous German sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand
and his wife, Irene Schaueffelen. My parents lived in a beautiful
house, a former convent of the Fratres Minimi, situated on the
outskirts of the marvelous town of Florence. I grew up in these
glorious surroundings, sheltered in the superabundant love of
my mother, and of my five sisters, all rarely gifted personalities.
Everything was pervaded by the genius of my father who was, not
only great as an artist, but also as a personality. My youth
was one of the happiest one can imagine. Continued...
Wordsworth reminds us, "the
child is father of the man," and since in Tolkien's case
this is particularly true, the eight-year-old's "cradle
conversion" was destined to shape the remainder of his life
in a profound manner. Indeed, it would not be an exaggeration
to say that Tolkien's conversion was crucial to both the making
of the man and the shaping of the myth he created. Continued...
"Who, I wonder, is going
to be entranced with my biographical data? I start out, in forthright,
deadly fashion: 'I have spent my entire life in South Bend, Indiana.
At the age of six I broke my leg while roller skating. In high
school, I made the second string volley ball team and...' No,
no, I can't go on. It's so dull that I'm sorely tempted to toss
in a couple of divorces and illegitimate children and just show
those editors what an interesting contributor they've snared."
The paternal great-grandfather,
grandfather and father of G. K. Chesterton were engaged in the
business of selling houses, -house agents, as they are called
in England. His father, Edward, married Marie Grosjean, whose
family had long been English, but had originally come from French
Switzerland. They had three children, Gilbert, born on May 29,
1874, Cecil, five years his junior, and Beatrice, who died in