Father Brown is a fictional Roman Catholic priest and amateur detective who is featured in 53 short stories published between 1910 and 1936 written by English novelist G. K. Chesterton. Father Brown solves mysteries and crimes using his intuition and keen understanding of human nature. Chesterton loosely based him on the Rt Rev. Msgr. John O'Connor (1870–1952), a parish priest in Bradford, who was involved in Chesterton's conversion to Catholicism in 1922.
|First appearance||The Blue Cross|
|Created by||G. K. Chesterton|
|Portrayed by||Walter Connolly |
J. T. Turner
Chesterton describes Father Brown as a short, stumpy Roman Catholic priest, with shapeless clothes, a large umbrella, and an uncanny insight into human evil. In "The Head of Caesar" he is "formerly priest of Cobhole in Essex, and now working in London". He makes his first appearance in the story "The Blue Cross" published in 1910 and continues to appear throughout fifty short stories in five volumes, with two more stories discovered and published posthumously, often assisted in his crime-solving by the reformed criminal M. Hercule Flambeau.
Father Brown also appears in a third story — making a total of fifty-three — that did not appear in the five volumes published in Chesterton's lifetime, "The Donnington Affair", which has a curious history. In the October 1914 issue of an obscure magazine, The Premier, Sir Max Pemberton published the first part of the story, then invited a number of detective story writers, including Chesterton, to use their talents to solve the mystery of the murder described. Chesterton and Father Brown's solution followed in the November issue. The story was first reprinted in the Chesterton Review (Winter), 1981, pp. 1–35 in the book Thirteen Detectives.
Unlike the better-known fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown's methods tend to be intuitive rather than deductive. He explains his method in "The Secret of Father Brown": "You see, I had murdered them all myself.... I had planned out each of the crimes very carefully. I had thought out exactly how a thing like that could be done, and in what style or state of mind a man could really do it. And when I was quite sure that I felt exactly like the murderer myself, of course I knew who he was."
Brown's abilities are also considerably shaped by his experience as a priest and confessor. In "The Blue Cross", when asked by Flambeau, who has been masquerading as a priest, how he knew of all sorts of criminal "horrors", Father Brown responds: "Has it never struck you that a man who does next to nothing but hear men's real sins is not likely to be wholly unaware of human evil?" He also states how he knew Flambeau was not really a priest: "You attacked reason. It's bad theology."
The stories normally contain a rational explanation of who the murderer was and how Brown worked it out. He always emphasises rationality; some stories, such as "The Miracle of Moon Crescent", "The Oracle of the Dog", "The Blast of the Book" and "The Dagger with Wings", poke fun at initially sceptical characters who become convinced of a supernatural explanation for some strange occurrence, but Father Brown easily sees the perfectly ordinary, natural explanation. In fact, he seems to represent an ideal of a devout but considerably educated and "civilised" clergyman. That can be traced to the influence of Roman Catholic thought on Chesterton. Father Brown is characteristically humble and is usually rather quiet, except to say something profound. Although he tends to handle crimes with a steady, realistic approach, he believes in the supernatural as the greatest reason of all.
Father Brown was a vehicle for conveying Chesterton's view of the world and, of all of his characters, is perhaps closest to Chesterton's own point of view, or at least the effect of his point of view. Father Brown solves his crimes through a strict reasoning process more concerned with spiritual and philosophic truths than with scientific details, making him an almost equal counterbalance with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, whose stories Chesterton read.[a] However, the Father Brown series commenced before Chesterton's own conversion to Roman Catholicism.
In his Letters from Prison, the Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci made this partisan declaration of his preference:
Father Brown is a Catholic who pokes fun at the mechanical thought processes of the Protestants and the book is basically an apologia of the Roman Church as against the Anglican Church. Sherlock Holmes is the 'Protestant' detective who finds the end of the criminal skein by starting from the outside, relying on science, on experimental method, on induction. Father Brown is the Catholic priest who through the refined psychological experiences offered by confession and by the persistent activity of the fathers' moral casuistry, though not neglecting science and experimentation, but relying especially on deduction and introspection, totally defeats Sherlock Holmes, makes him look like a pretentious little boy, shows up his narrowness and pettiness. Moreover, Chesterton is a great artist while Conan Doyle was a mediocre writer, even though he was knighted for literary merit; thus in Chesterton there is a stylistic gap between the content, the detective story plot, and the form, and therefore a subtle irony with regard to the subject being dealt with, which renders these stories so delicious.
Like Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Nero Wolfe, tales featuring Chesterton's priest detective continue to be created even after the original author's death.
John Peterson has written a further forty-four mysteries solved by Father Brown.
In Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, a quote from "The Queer Feet" is an important element of the structure and theme of the book. Father Brown speaks this line after catching a criminal, hearing his confession and letting him go: "I caught him, with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread." Book Three of Brideshead Revisited is called "A Twitch Upon the Thread" and the quotation acts as a metaphor for the operation of grace in the characters' lives. They are free to wander the world according to their free will until they are ready and receptive to God's grace, at which point he acts in their lives and effects a conversion. In the miniseries made by Granada Television adapting Brideshead, the character Lady Marchmain (Claire Bloom) reads this passage aloud.
1. The Innocence of Father Brown, 1911
2. The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)
3. The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926)
4. The Secret of Father Brown (1927)
5. The Scandal of Father Brown (1935)
6. Uncollected Stories (1914, 1936)
Doreen Mantle (born 26 June 1926) is a South African-born English actress who is probably best known for her role as Jean Warboys in One Foot in the Grave (1990–2000).She has appeared in many British television series from the 1960s to the present, such as The Duchess of Duke Street, The Wild House, Sam Saturday, Chalk, Casualty, The Bill, Doctors, Holby City and Jonathan Creek. She played lollipop lady Queenie in Jam & Jerusalem (2006–09). She appeared in episode 63 of Father Brown in January 2018.Mantle has worked extensively on the stage in such productions as My Fair Lady, Keep It in the Family, The Seagull and Hamlet. She also toured Britain in Billy Liar in the role of Florence Boothroyd and performed at the National Theatre in The Voysey Inheritance. In 1979 she was awarded the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Death of a Salesman. She has also done a great deal of radio work for BBC Radio 3 and BBC World Service. Mantle played the long suffering wife of the rabbi in BBC Radio 4's comedy series The Attractive Young Rabbi.In 1983 Mantle played "Mrs Shaemen" in Yentl. In 2011, Mantle appeared in Coronation Street as the mother of Colin Fishwick whose identity was taken by John Stape.Er kann's nicht lassen
Er kann's nicht lassen (English: He can't stop doing it) is a 1962 German mystery film directed by Axel von Ambesser and starring Heinz Rühmann, Rudolf Forster and Grit Boettcher. It was based on the Father Brown stories by G. K. Chesterton, Rühmann reprising his role from the 1960 film Das schwarze Schaf.Father Brown, Detective
Father Brown, Detective is a 1934 American mystery film directed by Edward Sedgwick and starring Walter Connolly, Paul Lukas and Gertrude Michael. It is based on the Father Brown story "The Blue Cross" by G.K. Chesterton, a story which also informed the 1954 film Father Brown with Alec Guinness and Peter Finch.Father Brown (1974 TV series)
Father Brown is a British television series, which originally aired on ITV in 1974. It featured Kenneth More as Father Brown, a Roman Catholic Priest who solved crime mysteries. The episodes were closely based on the stories by G. K. Chesterton.Father Brown (2013 TV series)
Father Brown is a British television Detective period drama which began airing on BBC One on 14 January 2013. It features Mark Williams as the eponymous crime-solving Roman Catholic priest. The series is loosely based on short stories by G. K. Chesterton.Father Brown (disambiguation)
Father Brown is a fictional character created by English novelist G. K. Chesterton.
Father Brown may also refer to:
Father Brown (film), 1954 British film
Father Brown (1974 TV series), 1974 British TV series that aired on ITV
Father Brown (2013 TV series), 2013 British TV series that aired on the BBC
Father Brown, Detective, 1934 American filmFather Brown (film)
Father Brown (The Detective in the United States) is a 1954 British mystery comedy film. Like the earlier 1934 Paramount picture Father Brown, Detective starring Walter Connolly, Paul Lukas and Gertrude Michael, the film is based on "The Blue Cross", a short story by G. K. Chesterton.Flambeau (character)
M. Hercule Flambeau is a fictional character created by English novelist G. K. Chesterton, who appears in 48 short stories about the character Father Brown. A master criminal, his surname "Flambeau" is an alias, the French word for a flaming torch.
He first appeared in the story "The Blue Cross" as a jewel thief. Father Brown foiled his attempted crimes in this and several other stories. As a notorious and elusive criminal, Flambeau is a worry for law-enforcers. He is exposed by Father Brown, and later becomes a detective himself. His last appearance as a thief occurs in "The Flying Stars", in which Father Brown persuades him to return his loot and to give up the criminal life. As a reformed criminal, Flambeau assists Father Brown in a number of other short stories, beginning with "The Invisible Man".
Although Brown and Flambeau spend much of the day together in "The Blue Cross", when they meet again in "The Queer Feet", Brown recognizes Flambeau but the thief has no recollection of the priest.
Flambeau is an idiosyncratic character. Conventional detective fiction often splits humanity into the "good" and the "bad", but the priest sees things in a more graduated light, and considers the possibility of redemption. He becomes Flambeau's friend before he reforms him, and uses this friendship to transform him. In "The Secret of Flambeau", Flambeau credits Father Brown for his reformation when he says, "Have I not heard the sermons of the righteous? […] Do you think all that ever did anything but make me laugh? Only my friend told me that he knew exactly why I stole, and I have never stolen since."
Flambeau's fate is revealed in "The Secret of Father Brown". Retiring as a detective, he marries and settles in a Spanish castle, raises a large family and lives in a blissful state of domesticity. Flambeau gives up his assumed name and returns to using his birth name, Duroc.
It has been suggested that Agatha Christie's famous detective Hercule Poirot was inspired by the character
Flambeau has appeared in several film, television and radio adaptations. Actors who have portrayed him include:
Paul Lukas – Father Brown, Detective (1934 film)
Bill Griffis – The Adventures of Father Brown (1945 radio series)
Peter Finch – Father Brown/The Detective (US title) (1954 film)
Siegfried Lowitz – Das schwarze Schaf (The Black Sheep) (1960 film)
Dennis Burgess – Father Brown (1974 TV series)
Olivier Pierre – Father Brown Stories (1984–1986 BBC Radio series)
John Light – Father Brown (2013 TV series) (Episodes: 1.10 "The Blue Cross", 2.5 "The Mysteries of the Rosary", 3.10 "The Judgment of Man", 4.5 "The Daughter of Autolycus", 5.15 "The Penitent Man", 6.10 "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau")G. K. Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936), was an English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic. Chesterton is often referred to as the "prince of paradox". Time magazine has observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out."Chesterton is well known for his fictional priest-detective Father Brown, and for his reasoned apologetics. Even some of those who disagree with him have recognised the wide appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify this position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Catholicism from High Church Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, his "friendly enemy", said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius." Biographers have identified him as a successor to such Victorian authors as Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, Cardinal John Henry Newman, and John Ruskin.G. K. Chesterton bibliography
This is a list of books written by G. K. Chesterton.Gideon Fell
Dr Gideon Fell is a fictional character created by John Dickson Carr. He is the protagonist of 23 mystery novels from 1933 through 1967, as well as a few short stories. Carr was an American who lived most of his adult life in England; Dr. Fell is an Englishman who lives in the London suburbs.
Dr Fell is supposedly based upon G. K. Chesterton (author of the Father Brown stories), whose physical appearance and personality were similar to those of Doctor Fell.Kenneth More
Kenneth Gilbert More, CBE (20 September 1914 – 12 July 1982) was an English film and stage actor.
Raised to stardom by the veteran car based film-comedy Genevieve (1953), he appeared in many roles as a carefree, happy-go-lucky gent. His biggest hits from this period include Raising a Riot (1955), Reach for the Sky (1956), The Admirable Crichton (1957) and A Night to Remember (1958). He starred in Doctor in the House (1954), the first of the popular Doctor film series.
Although his career declined in the early 1960s, two of his own favourite films date from this time – The Comedy Man (1964) and The Greengage Summer (1961) with Susannah York, "one of the happiest films on which I have ever worked." He also enjoyed a revival in the much-acclaimed TV adaptation of The Forsyte Saga (1967) and the Father Brown series (1974).Mark Williams (actor)
Mark Williams (born 22 August 1959) is an English actor, screenwriter and presenter. He is best known as Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter films, and as one of the stars of the popular BBC sketch show The Fast Show. He also played Brian Williams in the BBC series Doctor Who, and Olaf Petersen in Red Dwarf. More recently he has appeared as the title character in the BBC series Father Brown.Nancy Carroll (British actress)
Nancy Carroll (born 28 November 1974 in Cambridge, England) is an English actress. She has worked extensively in theatre productions, particularly with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She also has numerous film and television credits, including a long-running feature role as Lady Felicia in the BBC series Father Brown.Sorcha Cusack
Sorcha Cusack (Irish pronunciation: [ˈsɔɾə̆xə]) (born 9 April 1949) is an Irish actress. Her numerous television credits include playing the title role in Jane Eyre (1973), Casualty (1994–97), Coronation Street (2008) and Father Brown (2013–present).The Adventures of Father Brown
The Adventures of Father Brown is a 1945 radio crime drama that aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System, adapted from G. K. Chesterton's stories of Father Brown.
The 30-minute detective series starred Karl Swenson as Father Brown, introduced as "the best loved detective of them all." (Original plans called for "either Walter Huston or Spencer Tracy in the title role.") Bill Griffis portrayed Flambeau, and Gretchen Douglas was heard as Nora, the rectory housekeeper. The program was broadcast Sundays at 5 p.m. on Mutual from June 10, 1945, to July 29, 1945.From 1984 to 1986, Andrew Sachs starred as Father Brown in a BBC Radio series based on the G.K. Chesterton stories.The Black Sheep (1960 film)
The Black Sheep (German: Das schwarze Schaf) is a 1960 German mystery film directed by Helmut Ashley and starring Heinz Rühmann, Karl Schönböck and Maria Sebaldt. It is based on the Father Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton. Father Brown manages to demonstrate the innocence of a man accused of murder by finding the real culprit. Rühmann reprised the role in Er kann's nicht lassen in 1962.The Blue Cross (short story)
"The Blue Cross" is a short story by G. K. Chesterton. It was the first Father Brown short story and also introduces the characters Flambeau and Valentin. It is unique among the Father Brown mysteries in that it does not follow the actions of the Father himself, but rather those of Valentin. It was first published on 23 June 1910, under the title "Valentin Follows a Curious Trail", in the Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia. Re-titled as "The Blue Cross", publication in London followed, in The Story-Teller magazine of September 1910.The Hammer of God (short story)
"The Hammer of God" is a short story by G. K. Chesterton. It features his detective, Father Brown, and was published in the short story collection The Innocence of Father Brown (1911).
It is a story about two brothers: "Colonel Bohun, a drunkard and playboy, and Reverend Bohun, curate of an Anglican church." Jennifer Halloran notes that it echoes the story of Cain and Abel: the curate murders his brother.