Image of Hilaire Belloc


Lifetime: 1870 - 1953 Passed: ≈ 70 years ago


Writer, Member of Parliament


France, Britain

Hilaire Belloc

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc was a British-French writer and historian and one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. Belloc was also an orator, poet, sailor, satirist, writer of letters, soldier, and political activist. His Catholic faith had a strong impact on his works. He was President of the Oxford Union and later MP for Salford South from 1906 to 1910. He was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds. Belloc became a naturalised British subject in 1902 while retaining his French citizenship.

His writings encompassed religious poetry and comic verse for children. His widely sold Cautionary Tales for Children included "Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion" and "Matilda, who told lies and was burned to death".He wrote historical biographies and numerous travel works, including "The Path to Rome" (1902). He also collaborated with G. K. Chesterton on a number of works.

Belloc was born in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France to a French father, Louis Belloc (1830-1872) and an English mother. His sister Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes also grew up to be a writer. Hilaire Belloc grew up in England, and would spend most of his life there. His boyhood was spent in Slindon, West Sussex, for which he often felt homesick in later life.

An 1895 graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, Belloc was a noted figure within the University, being President of the Oxford Union, the undergraduate debating society. He went into politics after he became a naturalised British subject. A great disappointment in his life was his failure to gain a fellowship of All Souls College, Oxford in 1895.

His only period of steady employment after that was from 1914 to 1920 as editor of Land and Water, a journal devoted to the progress of the war. Otherwise he lived by his writing and was often impecunious.

During his later years, he would sail when he could afford to do so and became a well-known yachtsman. He won many races and was on the French sailing team. In the early 1930s, he was given an old Jersey pilot cutter, called Jersey. He sailed this for some years around the coasts of England, with the help of younger men. One of them, Dermod MacCarthy, wrote a book about his time on the water with Belloc, called Sailing with Mr Belloc.

Books by Hilaire Belloc

First and Last Cover image

First and Last

Short Works

“When a man weighs anchor in a little ship or a large one he does a jolly thing! He cuts himself off and he starts for freedom and for the chance of things. He pulls the jib a-weather, he leans to her slowly pulling round, he sees the wind getting in...

The Servile State Cover image

The Servile State

Non-Fiction Business
Slavery Industrial Labour

The Servile State is a 1912 book authored by Hilaire Belloc. The book is primarily a history of capitalism in Europe, and a repudiation of the convergence of big business with the state. Belloc lays out two alternatives: distributism and collectivism...

The Free Press Cover image

The Free Press

Political Science Non-Fiction
Freedom Journalism Free Speech

I propose to discuss in what follows the evil of the great modern Capitalist Press, its function in vitiating and misinforming opinion and in putting power into ignoble hands; its correction by the formation of small independent organs, and the proba...

Europe and the Faith  Cover image

Europe and the Faith

Civil Kingdom Faith Christianity Empire political Catholicism

"The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith." Belloc looks first at the Roman Empire, then the place of the early Church inside that Empire, then the Empire's decline, which is represented by the devolution of central power from the Emperor to loca...

On Nothing & Kindred Subjects  Cover image

On Nothing & Kindred Subjects

Truth Religion Philosophical Short Works

“I knew a man once, Maurice, who was at Oxford for three years, and after that went down with no degree. At College, while his friends were seeking for Truth in funny brown German Philosophies, Sham Religions, stinking bottles and identical equations...

On Anything  Cover image

On Anything

Gods Life Castle Wealth Beliefs Speeches

Long before I knew that the speech of men was misused by them and that they lied in the hearing of the gods perpetually, in those early days through which all men have passed, during which one believes what one is told, an old and crusty woman of gre...

On Something  Cover image

On Something

Drama Truth Advice Short Works Music Apologetics Immortality

“Now that story is a symbol, and tells the truth. We see some one thing in this world, and suddenly it becomes particular and sacramental; a woman and a child, a man at evening, a troop of soldiers; we hear notes of music, we smell the smell that wen...

This, That, and the Other  Cover image

This, That, and the Other

History Death Literature Short Works

“When Fame comes upon a man well before death then must he most particularly beware of it, for is it then most dangerous. Neither must he, having achieved it, relax effort nor (a much greater peril) think he has done his work because some Fame now at...

French Revolution Cover image

French Revolution

“It is, for that matter, self-evident that if one community decides in one fashion, another, also sovereign, in the opposite fashion, both cannot be right. Reasoning men have also protested, and justly, against the conception that what a majority in...

Green Overcoat Cover image

Green Overcoat

This rollicking novel captures the minor moral dilemma of thin, shy, nervous, Professor Higginson, psychologist, as he comes under the eye of the enemy of his soul through an encounter with a green overcoat. The quixotic adventure that follows will...

Verses Cover image


A collection of poetry by Hilaire Belloc ranging from religious verses to drinking songs. - Summary by Larry Wilson

On Everything Cover image

On Everything

Hillaire Belloc of French by birth, British by naturalization was a diverse and prolific writer of the early 20th century. His writing runs the range from poetry, political writings and children’s stories. He was a close friend, and sometimes colla...

On Cover image


Hilaire Belloc, French by birth, British by naturalization, was a diverse and prolific writer of the early 20th century. His writing runs the range from poetry, political writings and children’s stories. He was a close friend, and sometimes collabora...

Road Cover image


"We are arrived at a chief turning-point in the history of the English highway. New instruments of locomotion, a greater volume of traffic, a greater weight in loads, and vastly increased rapidity in road travel have between them brought us to an iss...

Footpath Way: An Anthology for Walkers Cover image

Footpath Way: An Anthology for Walkers

This 1911 anthology is a collection of musings on the pleasures, challenges, and experience of walking. It features some famous authors (Thoreau, Dickens, Whitman, etc.) and others who are less well known. The works include essays, excerpts from fict...