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George MacDonald

Scottish novelist, clergyman and author

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George MacDonald (10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, such as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, E. Nesbit and Madeleine L'Engle. It was C. S. Lewis who wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read.

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Died
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December 10, 1824
Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
September 18, 1905
Ashtead , England
Criticism (interpretation), Fairy tales, Fantasy fiction (English), Fiction, Juvenile works
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Biography

George Macdonald was born at Huntly, in the western part of Aberdeenshire on 10 December, 1824, the son of George Macdonald, farmer, and Helen MacKay. He was educated in country schools where Gaelic myths and Old Testament stories abounded. He then went on to Aberdeen University in the early 1840's obtaining awards in Moral Philosophy and Sciences. Next he studied for the Congregationalist ministry at Highbury College, London.

In 1850 he was made pastor at Arundel, West Sussex, England. MacDonald resigned however after three years of not living up to the congregational authorities’ expectations for more dogmatic sermons and being accused of heresy. Rejecting his Calvinist upbringing and doctrine of predestination, he came to believe in the divine presence but not divine providence and felt that everyone was capable of redemption.

George MacDonald married Louisa Powell in 1851 and they had six sons and five daughters together. One of their sons, Greville Macdonald would later become a writer himself and author a biography of his father. After a stay in Algiers to gain his health back MacDonald returned to England to tutor and write to provide for his ever-growing family and preach freelance when time permitted. Despite his successful career as a published writer he was continually forced to rely on the charity of his friends. Lady Byron was one such patron who assisted him until her death in 1860 as well as John Ruskin. MacDonald was mentor to C.S. Lewis; formed a strong friendship with Mark Twain after a tumultuous start and G. K. Chesterton, Henry Longfellow, and Walt Whitman were also counted among his friends. Some of his early poetry was Within and Without (1855) and Poems (1857), however his first real successes came with his Scottish country life stories such as David Elginbrod (1862), Alec Forbes (1865) and Robert Falconer (1868).

The 1870s brought an invitation for MacDonald to tour and lecture in America. He was well-received by huge audiences and by writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. A well-paid ministerial position was offered him but he chose to return to England. In 1877 he was pensioned at the request of Queen Victoria. The ill health that had plagued MacDonald the greater part of his life forced him to seek the warmer climates of Europe. One of his daughters was taken to Italy for a cure in 1877 though she ended up dying. However Macdonald found the climate of such benefit to his own maladies that he spent most of the years from 1881 to 1902 in Bordighera, Italy, "Heaven of the English" in his house "Casa Coraggio." His wife was the organist of the Catholic church there and they often held concerts and amateur plays in their home socializing and having a merry time. Titles published around this time were Sir Gibbie (1879), Donal Grant (1883), and the moral allegories Lilith (1895) and Robert Falconer (1868) show MacDonald's early distaste for the limiting Calvinist God's electing to love some and denying it to others.

Louisa Powell died one year after her and George's golden wedding anniversary, in 1902. George Macdonald, after a long illness, died at Ashstead, Surrey, England on 18 September, 1905. His remains were cremated and they were taken to his beloved Bordighera for interment alongside his wife. A memorial to George MacDonald has been erected in the Drumblade Churchyard, Aberdeenshire.

In his George MacDonald: An Anthology (1947) C. S. Lewis states that while reading a copy of MacDonald's Phantastes (1858) "a few hours later," through inspiration of the gentle Christian's words "I knew I had crossed a great frontier.".... "I know hardly any other writer who seems closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ himself." W.H. Auden and J. R. R. Tolkien also admired his efforts. Phantastes was to become a definitive work of MacDonald's career. Through his writing, peppered with the Doric Dialect, he asserted that there was a God and art and the expression of creativity of spirit brought one closer to Him. Other successful titles were At the Back of the North Wind (1871), The Princess and the Goblin (published sometime in the 1880s) and it's sequel The Princess and Curdie (1883). The Diary of an Old Soul first published posthumously in 1965 strikes a deeper note of thoughtfulness where MacDonald offers a prayer for each day of the year.

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External Work.
95 editions published.

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Scottish author George MacDonald was a Christian children's author best-known for his popular fantasy stories Lillith and Phantases. MacDonald was an inspiration for writers of children's fiction such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Madeline L'Engle, Lewis Carroll, and even Mark Twain. At the Back of the North Wind is the fantastical story of Diamond, a young boy whose adventures begin when the North Wind offers to take him for a ride on her back. Though Diamond is poor and his reality is grim, his heart is pure and his wisdom is extraordinary. Through his friendship with the North Wind, Diamond is able to encounter exciting and, at times, challenging adventures. In addition to its ethereal quality, this book is imbued with Christian philosophy and some Dickens-like social commentary. MacDonald emphasizes many important Christian themes, including pain, good and evil, heaven, and God's providence, omniscience, and omnipotence. George MacDonald wrote this children's story for publication in a young reader's magazine in 1868. Three years later it was published in book form and Diamond has been tugging at readers' heartstrings ever since. Full of Victorian style and ideology, North Wind is a story that is best read aloud to children and will thrill audiences for generations to come.

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32 editions published.

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31 editions published.

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47 editions published.

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This work was the first of the famed fantasy novelist’s novels in the style of realism. It tells the story of Hugh Sutherland, a young Scotsman who, while facing personal trials, befriends David Elginbrod and his daughter, Maggie. Readers and critics alike have praised and cherished the novel not only for its artistry, but also for its tender and precise portrayal of human life. Although not as well-known as The Princess and the Goblin or At the Back of the North Wind, David Elginbrod possesses truth and beauty all its own, and does not deserve to be overlooked.

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Scottish author George MacDonald was a Christian children's author best known for his popular fantasy stories, fairy tales, and memorable young protagonists. MacDonald was an inspiration for writers of children's fiction such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Madeline L'Engle, Lewis Carroll, and even Mark Twain. Donal Grant is the story of Donal, a man who has just finished college and sets out on a journey to a nearby town. There, he finds a spiritual mentor and several of his family members. The story is filled with supernatural occurrences - ghosts, legends, and somnambulism. MacDonald, per usual, incorporates many "sermonettes" into the novel, and topics like evil and secrets and discussed with a religious bent. This is one of MacDonald's more challenging novels due to its 800 print page length and the realistic Scottish dialect he uses for dialogue, but the story is well worth the struggle. Fans of MacDonald will enjoy this less well-known work.

Abby Zwart

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6 editions published.

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44 editions published.

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39 editions published.

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51 editions published.

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At the christening of his daughter, a king is shocked by the arrival of his spiteful sister, Princess Makemnoit. The evil princess puts a curse on the king’s daughter so she would have no gravity. Like a helium balloon, the little girl floats up into the air at the slightest jump; she suffers from impaired judgment, and cannot cry out for someone to keep the wind from carrying her off. As she grows older, the king’s daughter learns of a secret weakness in Princess Makemnoit’s curse. The Light Princess is one of the most beloved fairy tales of George MacDonald, whose work influenced that of Lewis, Tolkien, and even Mark Twain. The children’s story is still widely read today, and has inspired film, stage, and musical adaptations.

After several strange occurrences, Mr. Vane believes his library is haunted. It is not until he is acquainted with the mysterious Mr. Raven that Mr. Vane learns of the magical world that lurks within his reach. Upon visiting this world with Mr. Raven, Mr. Vane encounters incredulous beings, some good, some dangerous. He witnesses many extraordinary things and eventually, his hazardous journey leads him to find love and face death; ultimately he must decide between the two. This story is heavily influenced by Christian themes, as readers must wrestle with the concepts of death and salvation alongside Mr. Vane. This whimsical novel is a dark fantasy tale written for adult readers. Of his fantasy stories, George MacDonald claimed to write not necessarily for children, but for the child-like. MacDonald has been said to be one of the most influential fantasy writers of the 19th century, having inspired writers such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Madeline L'Engle.

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20 editions published.

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67 editions published.

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58 editions published.

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40 editions published.

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138 editions published.

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Robert Falconer, also published under the title of The Musician’s Quest, tells the tale of a young man’s search for God and the meaning of life. After the death of his parents, Robert’s grandmother takes him in. Although she loves and cares for him, she adheres to an austere lifestyle and strict religious doctrines. As Robert struggles to find purpose, he is torn between the severe Christianity of his grandmother and the loving God he feels he knows. Full of genuine human sentiment and thoughtfulness, MacDonald’s novel has fascinated readers for over a century. The author himself considered Robert Falconer his favorite character, and beloved Christian writer C.S. Lewis cited it as one of the books that helped him start out on his spiritual journey.

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Scottish author George MacDonald wrote Sir Gibbie in 1879, and though the novel is less well-known than his popular fantasy stories Lillith and Phantases, it is cited as his best work by many fans. MacDonald was an inspiration for writer of children's fiction such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Madeline L'Engle, Lewis Carroll, and even Mark Twain. Lovers of Narnia and Alice will appreciate the genuine characters and moral lessons of Sir Gibbie, a compelling story of an impoverished, mute boy in Scotland. Raised by an abusive and alcoholic father, Gibbie is a kind-hearted youngster handed a tough lot. He copes beautifully, though, with help from his friend Janet, and in the end performs an act of genuine forgiveness. Sir Gibbie will expose children (and parents) to the cruelty of the world while simultaneously presenting them with a role model of mercy and grace. This powerful book is considered by many a great literary triumph and a powerful example of a heroic character who is truly good.

Abby Zwart

George MacDonald was a well-known and well-loved Christian author and poet in the 19th century. He had an important impact on figures such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton. Although he wrote much beloved fiction, MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons is some of the most wonderful and profound literature a person can read. The sermons are arranged in series, so that they build upon one another. Throughout, MacDonald is more concerned with a person developing a love of God than developing dogmas. That is, MacDonald's sermons are more concerned with doing the will of God than believing true things about God. Though MacDonald's approach to theology is not the usual one, nevertheless the results are astounding. Many readers feel they are being swept into the presence of God upon reading these sermons. MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons truly provide a chance for a person to more closely love God and humankind.

George MacDonald was a well-known and well-loved Christian author and poet in the 19th century. He had an important impact on figures such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton. Although he wrote much beloved fiction, MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons is some of the most wonderful and profound literature a person can read. The sermons are arranged in series, so that they build upon one another. Throughout, MacDonald is more concerned with a person developing a love of God than developing dogmas. That is, MacDonald's sermons are more concerned with doing the will of God than believing true things about God. Though MacDonald's approach to theology is not the usual one, nevertheless the results are astounding. Many readers feel they are being swept into the presence of God upon reading these sermons. MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons truly provide a chance for a person to more closely love God and humankind.

George MacDonald was a well-known and well-loved Christian author and poet in the 19th century. He had an important impact on figures such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton. Although he wrote much beloved fiction, MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons is some of the most wonderful and profound literature a person can read. The sermons are arranged in series, so that they build upon one another. Throughout, MacDonald is more concerned with a person developing a love of God than developing dogmas. That is, MacDonald's sermons are more concerned with doing the will of God than believing true things about God. Though MacDonald's approach to theology is not the usual one, nevertheless the results are astounding. Many readers feel they are being swept into the presence of God upon reading these sermons. MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons truly provide a chance for a person to more closely love God and humankind.

George MacDonald was a well-known and well-loved Christian author and poet in the 19th century. He had an important impact on figures such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton. Although he wrote much beloved fiction, MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons is some of the most wonderful and profound literature a person can read. The sermons are arranged in series, so that they build upon one another. Throughout, MacDonald is more concerned with a person developing a love of God than developing dogmas. That is, MacDonald's sermons are more concerned with doing the will of God than believing true things about God. Though MacDonald's approach to theology is not the usual one, nevertheless the results are astounding. Many readers feel they are being swept into the presence of God upon reading these sermons. MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons truly provide a chance for a person to more closely love God and humankind.

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