Of all the wonderful Chesterton quotations, perhaps the finest and best known is the following. The Times, having posed the question “What’s wrong with the world today?”, received the immortal reply:

Dear sir,

I am.

Yours, GK Chesterton

It is hardly surprising that the line, expressing a profound (and profoundly Christian) truth with such pithiness and wit, is so loved and repeated. Indeed, it seems the purest slice of Chestertoniana, as though the great man’s expansive spirit had been distilled into epigram form. Even with the original question, the whole thing fits easily into a single tweet.

The trouble is, no one has been able to pin down exactly when Chesterton said it. As explained by the estimable American Chesterton Society website’s FAQs:

This story has been repeated so often about Chesterton that we suspect it is true. Also, it seems it is never told about anyone other than Chesterton. What we have not found, however, is any documentary evidence for it. It may indeed be from The Times, as the story is usually told, but no one has taken the trouble to go through the back issues and find a copy of the actual letter. It has also been attributed to other papers, but again, no proof.

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