Hilaire Belloc – Famous Faces on Cheyne Walk, Chelsea
104 Cheyne Walk was home to British-French historian and one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century, Hillaire Belloc.
Hilaire Belloc, in full Joseph-Hilaire-Pierre-René Belloc, French-born poet, was among the most versatile English writers of the first quarter of the 20th century.
He is most remembered for his light verse, particularly for children, and for the lucidity and easy grace of his essays, which could be delightfully about nothing or decisively about some of the key controversies of the Edwardian era.
Verses and Sonnets (1895) and The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts (1896) launched Belloc on his literary career. Cautionary Tales, another book of humorous verse for children, which parodied some Victorian pomposities, appeared in 1907.
Hilaire Belloc was also an orator, poet, sailor, satirist, writer of letters, soldier, and political activist and his Catholic faith had a strong impact on all of his work.
Belloc was educated at the Oratory School, Birmingham, and then worked as a journalist. After military service, as a French citizen, he entered Balliol College, Oxford, in 1894. He graduated with first-class honours in history, was president of the Union (debating society).
He became a naturalized British subject in 1902 and sat as a member of Parliament for Salford (1906–10), first as a Liberal and then as an Independent.
Belloc is one of the masters of modern English prose, a good poet, and a deeply interesting literary personality.
The building is now home to a blue plaque indicating historical importance in commemoration of Hillaire Belloc and his work. His plaque is kept company by another belonging to Walter Greaves, a British painter, etcher and topographical draftsman who was born in 1846 at 31 Cheyne Walk, and later died down the road at 104 Cheyne Walk where he lived from 1855 to 1897.