Monday, September 17, 2012

Favorite Authors - George S. MacDonald

Two books I loved as a child were THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN and THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE by George S. MacDonald (1824-1880).

I didn't know, until the other day, that MacDonald was C. S. Lewis's mentor (thanks Denise!)

Turns out he also was a major influence on Tolkein, Auden, L'Engle, Carroll and even Twain.  Guess I'm in good company!

Socially he hobnobbed with Thackeray, Dickens, Tennyson, Wilkie Collins, Longfellow, Whitman - well, really anybody who was anybody in those days.

Looks a bit like Rasputin - eek!
 About THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN, G. K. Chesteron said it "made a difference to my whole existence."

The books we had were early editions that had been in our family for ages.  I adored the beautiful evocative illustrations as much as the words. The stories involved a race of goblins who lived underground where they plotted to abduct the child Princess Irene and marry her to the goblin prince.  The mastermind behind the scheme was Prince Harelip's mother, the Queen, whose feet sported toes, unlike the other goblins.  She took great pains to hide her "deformed" feet from the other goblins, she probably feared they'd turn on her, I don't really remember much about her motivation as a character.  I do remember that the goblins had extremely hard heads, to hurt them Curdie had to aim his miner's pick at their feet instead. Curdie and Princess Irene's goddess-like great great grandmother ultimately saved the day. 

These stories inspired certain aspects of my novel TENDRIL.

Young Princess Irene & her Great Great Grandmother

Older Princess Irene with Curdie

What author from your own childhood inspired you?


  1. "I do not write," MacDonald once said, "for children, but for the child-like, whether of five, or fifty, or seventy-five."

    You have to love a guy who, even back in the nineteenth century, recognized that the spirit of childlike wonder knows no age.

    Lewis said that, in his appreciation of MacDonald's works, he regarded him as his Master, and along with Tolkien, and several other of his Oxford mates named their literary circle the "Inklings." Doesn't that just inspire you? Now I want an Inklings circle. :P

    By the way, in addition to numerous short stories in the fantasy realm and three full-length children's stories (you mentioned two,) MacDonald also wrote the adult faerie tale "Phantastes and Lilith." :)

    So enjoyed this post!

  2. Yes, I saw that quote too - fabulous! Also liked his rejection of the concept of predestination. I also read that several of MacDonald's children sat for Carroll as photo subjects. Yes, I LOVE the Inklings and am going to go right now and use it for my blog followers. I don't think they'll mind :)
    I do remember reading At The Back Of The North Wind as a child, I just didn't love it as much as the Irene stories. I wanted everyone to call me "Irene" at one point.