From the obituary in today's edition of The New York Times (ht: C.F.):
Wilfrid Sheed, the wittily satirical man of letters who drew upon his Anglo-American background to write bittersweet essays, criticism, memoirs and fiction about cultural life on both sides of the Atlantic, died early Wednesday in Great Barrington, Mass. He was 80. ...
Born to the founders of the eminent Roman Catholic publishing house Sheed & Ward, Mr. Sheed was from an early age thrown in with writers, intellectuals and serious thinkers about religion, among them the English writer G. K. Chesterton, who was his godfather. He mined his resources industriously, making for himself a much-admired writing career.
“I guess I sort of backed into writing,” Mr. Sheed told Publishers Weekly. “I have taken off from family experiences sometimes as if they were daydreams.” ...
Wilfrid John Joseph Sheed was born in London on Dec. 27, 1930, the younger of two children of Francis Joseph Sheed, who immigrated from Australia with a background in law to become a street-corner evangelist, and Maisie Ward, a fellow Catholic Revivalist and author who was eight years her husband’s senior, a descendant of a proud English Catholic family and, at six feet tall, a striking figure on the streets of London.
Together they founded Sheed & Ward (now an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield), which, besides Chesterton, published work by the Catholic social worker Dorothy Day, the historian Hilaire Belloc and the poet Robert Lowell.
How about having Chesterton as one's godfather? Fascinating. I've read very little by the prolific Wilfrid Sheed, but am a big admirer of his father's work—I have about a dozen or so of Frank Sheed's books—especially Theology and Sanity. Wilfrid's mother, Maisie Ward, wrote some fine books as well, including Gilbert Keith Chesterton. May Mr. Sheed rest in peace.