Dates: 27 April 1874 – 14 December 1945
Occupation: Dramatist, poet, novelist, translator, essayist, travel writer, war correspondent.
Baring was for many years an agnostic who was one of a group of literary figures who became friendly with G K Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, two influential Catholics in the early 20th century. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge. Baring reported as an eye-witness on the Russo-Japanese War for the London Morning Post.
Comments on converting to Catholicism
When he attended Mass at an earlier stage in his life, when he did not yet believe, he commented that "it impressed me greatly ... One felt one was looking on at something extremely ancient. The behaviour of the congregation, and the expression on their faces impressed me greatly too. To them it was evidently real."
Later, it was real to him too. As he wrote, [converting was] “the only action in my life which I am quite certain I have never regretted”.
Baring also wrote the following sonnet concerning his conversion:
One day I heard a whisper: ‘Wherefore wait?
Why linger in a separated porch?
Why nurse the flicker of a separated torch
The fire is there, ablaze beyond the gate.
Why tremble, foolish soul? Why hesitate?
‘However faint the knock, it will be heard.’
I knocked and swiftly came the answering word,
Which bade me enter to my own estate.
I found myself in a familiar place;
And there my broken soul began to mend;
I knew the smile of every long-lost face –
They whom I forgot remembered me;
I knelt, I knew – it was too bright to see –
The welcome of a King who was my friend.
Baring’s conversion story is one of many told in Literary Converts by Joseph Pearce, published by Harper Collins.