George MacDonald (1824–1905) is a Scottish writer best known as a novelist, but he also wrote in such genres as poetry, sermons, and literary criticism. He was a Congregational minister, who mentored the young Lewis Carroll, encouraging him to publish his stories of Alice which were popular with MacDonald’s many children.
His greatest influence is as a writer of fantasy — both for children (he would say “for the child-like”) and for adults. His best children’s books are The Princess and the Goblin (1872) [read my brief review here] and its sequel The Princess and Curdie (1882). His masterpieces of adult fantasy are Phantastes and Lilith — both published in 1895.
MacDonald greatly influenced many authors, including G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis. Lewis referred to him as his master, and said, “...what I learned to love in Phantastes was goodness.” This quality comes through in MacDonald’s other works as well, which W.H. Auden confirms.
When thou turn’st away from ill,
Christ is this side of thy hill.
When thou turnest toward good,
Christ is walking in thy wood.
When thy heart says, “Father, pardon!”
Then the Lord is in thy garden.
When stern Duty wakes to watch,
Then his hand is on the latch.
But when Hope thy song doth rouse,
Then the Lord is in the house.
When to love is all thy wit,
Christ doth at thy table sit.
When God’s will is thy heart’s pole,
Then is Christ thy very soul.
Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: www.dsmartin.ca