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George MacDonald


George MacDonald was a Scottish novelist, poet, clergyman, and author of children's stories. He was born at Huntly, Aberdeenshire in December 1824. He was the son of George Macdonald and Helen MacKay and his family could trace their ancestry back to the MacDonalds of Glen Coe at the time of the massacre of 1692.

The young George attended the county schools, and went to Aberdeen University in 1840-41 and 1844-45, taking prizes in chemistry and natural philosophy. After gaining his degree, he moved to London to study at Highbury College and became a minister in the Congregational Church.  He was made pastor at Arundel in 1850, but displeased his congregation by the lack of dogmatic material in his sermons, and he eventually resigned his position. He fell into ill health and decided to go to Algiers to recover. When he returned to England, he resolved to be a writer.

He first made his name with the publication of his poem Within and Without in 1855. His book Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women was published in 1858 to critical acclaim. His later books were also well received and his writing attracted the attention of many people of note including Lady Byron who befriended him and left him a legacy in her will. MacDonald’s books such as The Princess and the Goblin, At the Back of the North Wind, and Lilith were later described as fantasy and are regarded as by some as the foundation works of the genre. He supplemented his income by writing many other works of fiction with a Scottish setting.

Many authors were strongly influenced by MacDonald, most notable C.S Lewis who even included him as a character in one of his books. Lewis Carroll was a friend of MacDonald’s, and other authors including J.R.R Tolkein, Madeleine L’Engle, W.H Auden and John Ruskin are said to be influenced by his work.

MacDonald died at his home in Surrey in 1905, but his influence remains today and his work and life are a celebrated part of the history of Huntly.


At Orb’s we stock many books by and about MacDonald - please contact the shop for more details. Our stock is in much demand and it is best to phone the shop during opening hours to be sure of what is on the shelves.

Our contact details are at the foot of this page.

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