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Ada Elizabeth Jones, also known as Ada Chesterton, was born in London, England. As a teenager, she went to work as a freelance journalist, joined the Fabian Society, and got to know writers and artists such as Edith Nesbit, Havelock Ellis, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and Eleanor Marx. In 1900, she met Cecil Chesterton, a journalist 10 years her junior, and they became lovers. She finally consented to marry him in 1917, a few days before he went to fight with the British Army in World War I. He died in France the following year. Ada and her brother-in-law G.K. Chesterton were left in charge of the political newspaper New Witness (formerly Eye-Witness), founded by her husband with Hilaire Belloc. In 1925, she began an investigation report on poverty in London by living on the streets for two weeks, selling matches, begging, and sleeping in a variety of shelters alongside homeless women. Her account was subsequently published in book form as In Darkest London (1926). She raised money to help build the first of many shelters for women that became known as Cecil Houses. Other books on this topic included Women of the Underworld (1928) and I Lived in a Slum (1936). She served as the drama critic for New Witness after it was renamed G.K.'s Weekly, and wrote a couple of plays with Ralph Neale. During this period she also worked as a foreign correspondent and wrote books such as My Russian Venture (1931) and Young China and New Japan (1933). She wrote a biography of her husband and brother called The Chestertons (1941). During World War II, she visited the USSR and published Salute the Soviet (1942). She continued to pursue her philanthropic work throughout her life.
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