George MacDonald (10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905) was a Scottish author, poet and Christian minister. He was a pioneering figure in the field of fantasy literature and the mentor of fellow writer Lewis Carroll. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors, including W. H. Auden, J. M. Barrie, Lord Dunsany, Hope Mirrlees, Robert E. Howard, L. Frank Baum, Lloyd Alexander, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Walter de la Mare, E. Nesbit, Neil Gaiman and Madeleine L'Engle. C. S. Lewis 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. A few hours later", said Lewis, "I knew that I had crossed a great frontier." G. K. Chesterton cited The Princess and the Goblin as a book that had "made a difference to my whole existence".
Elizabeth Yates wrote of Sir Gibbie, "It moved me the way books did when, as a child, the great gates of literature began to open and first encounters with noble thoughts and utterances were unspeakably thrilling."
Even Mark Twain, who initially disliked MacDonald, became friends with him, and there is some evidence that Twain was influenced by him. The Christian author Oswald Chambers wrote in his "Christian Disciplines" that "it is a striking indication of the trend and shallowness of the modern reading public that George MacDonald's books have been so neglected".
In addition to his fairy tales, MacDonald wrote several works on Christian apologetics.
MacDonald in the 1860s
|Born||10 December 1824|
Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
|Died||18 September 1905 (aged 80)|
Ashtead, Surrey, England
|Occupation||Minister, writer (poet, novelist)|
|Alma mater||University of Aberdeen|
Louisa Powell (m. 1851)
George MacDonald was born on 10 December 1824 at Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. His father, a farmer, was one of the MacDonalds of Glen Coe and a direct descendant of one of the families that suffered in the massacre of 1692.
MacDonald grew up in an unusually literate environment: one of his maternal uncles was a notable Celtic scholar, editor of the Gaelic Highland Dictionary and collector of fairy tales and Celtic poetry. His paternal grandfather had supported the publication of an Ossian edition, the controversial Celtic text believed by some to have contributed to the starting of European Romanticism. MacDonald's step-uncle was a Shakespeare scholar, and his paternal cousin another Celtic academic. Both his parents were readers, his father harbouring predilections for Newton, Burns, Cowper, Chalmers, Coleridge, and Darwin, to quote a few, while his mother had received a classical education which included multiple languages.
An account cited how the young George suffered lapses in health in his early years and was subject to problems with his lungs such as asthma, bronchitis and even a bout of tuberculosis. This last illness was considered a family disease and two of MacDonald's brothers, his mother, and later three of his own children actually died from the ailment.  Even in his adult life, he was constantly travelling in search of purer air for his lungs.
MacDonald grew up in the Congregational Church, with an atmosphere of Calvinism. However, his family was atypical, with his paternal grandfather a Catholic-born, fiddle-playing, Presbyterian elder; his paternal grandmother an Independent church rebel; his mother was a sister to the Gallic-speaking radical who became moderator of the disrupting Free Church, while his step-mother, to whom he was also very close, was the daughter of a Scottish Episcopalian priest.
MacDonald graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1845 with a master's degree in chemistry and physics. He spent the next several years struggling with matters of faith and deciding what to do with his life. His son, biographer Greville MacDonald stated that his father could have pursued a career in the medical field but he speculated that lack of money put an end to this prospect. It was only in 1848 when MacDonald began theological training at Highbury College for the Congregational ministry.
MacDonald was appointed minister of Trinity Congregational Church, Arundel, in 1850, after briefly serving as a locum minister in Ireland. However, his sermons—which preached God's universal love and the possibility that all would ultimately unite with God—met with little favour and his salary was cut in half. In May 1853, MacDonald tendered his resignation from his pastoral duties at Arundel. Later he was engaged in ministerial work in Manchester, leaving that because of poor health. An account cited the role of Lady Byron in convincing MacDonald to travel to Algiers in 1856 with the hope that the sojourn would help turn his health around. When he got back, he settled in London and taught for some time at the University of London. MacDonald was also for a time editor of Good Words for the Young.
George MacDonald's best-known works are Phantastes, The Princess and the Goblin, At the Back of the North Wind, and Lilith, all fantasy novels, and fairy tales such as "The Light Princess", "The Golden Key", and "The Wise Woman". "I write, not for children," he wrote, "but for the child-like, whether they be of five, or fifty, or seventy-five." MacDonald also published some volumes of sermons, the pulpit not having proved an unreservedly successful venue.
After his literary success, MacDonald went on to do a lecture tour in the United States in 1872–1873, after being invited to do so by a lecture company, the Boston Lyceum Bureau. On the tour, MacDonald lectured about other poets such as Robert Burns, Shakespeare, and Tom Hood. He performed this lecture to great acclaim, speaking in Boston to crowds in the neighborhood of three thousand people.
MacDonald served as a mentor to Lewis Carroll (the pen-name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson); it was MacDonald's advice, and the enthusiastic reception of Alice by MacDonald's many sons and daughters, that convinced Carroll to submit Alice for publication. Carroll, one of the finest Victorian photographers, also created photographic portraits of several of the MacDonald children. MacDonald was also friends with John Ruskin, and served as a go-between in Ruskin's long courtship with Rose La Touche. While in America he was befriended by Longfellow and Walt Whitman.
As hinted above, MacDonald's use of fantasy as a literary medium for exploring the human condition greatly influenced a generation of notable authors, including C. S. Lewis, who featured him as a character in his The Great Divorce. In his introduction to his MacDonald anthology, Lewis speaks highly of MacDonald's views:
This collection, as I have said, was designed not to revive MacDonald's literary reputation but to spread his religious teaching. Hence most of my extracts are taken from the three volumes of Unspoken Sermons. My own debt to this book is almost as great as one man can owe to another: and nearly all serious inquirers to whom I have introduced it acknowledge that it has given them great help—sometimes indispensable help toward the very acceptance of the Christian faith. ...
I know hardly any other writer who seems to be closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ Himself. Hence his Christ-like union of tenderness and severity. Nowhere else outside the New Testament have I found terror and comfort so intertwined. ...
In making this collection I was discharging a debt of justice. I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him. But it has not seemed to me that those who have received my books kindly take even now sufficient notice of the affiliation. Honesty drives me to emphasize it.
Others he influenced include J. R. R. Tolkien and Madeleine L'Engle. MacDonald's non-fantasy novels, such as Alec Forbes, had their influence as well; they were among the first realistic Scottish novels, and as such MacDonald has been credited with founding the "kailyard school" of Scottish writing.
In 1877 he was given a civil list pension. From 1879 he and his family moved to Bordighera, in a place much loved by British expatriates, the Riviera dei Fiori in Liguria, Italy, almost on the French border. In that locality there also was an Anglican church, All Saints, which he attended. Deeply enamoured of the Riviera, he spent 20 years there, writing almost half of his whole literary production, especially the fantasy work. MacDonald founded a literary studio in that Ligurian town, naming it Casa Coraggio (Bravery House). It soon became one of the most renowned cultural centres of that period, well attended by British and Italian travellers, and by locals, with presentations of classic plays and readings of Dante and Shakespeare often being held.
MacDonald married Louisa Powell in Hackney in 1851, with whom he raised a family of eleven children: Lilia Scott (1852), Mary Josephine (1853), Caroline Grace (1854), Greville Matheson (1856-1944), Irene (1857), Winifred Louise (1858), Ronald (1860–1933), Robert Falconer (1862–1913), Maurice (1864), Bernard Powell (1865–1928), and George Mackay (1867–1909?).
His son Greville became a noted medical specialist, a pioneer of the Peasant Arts movement, wrote numerous fairy tales for children, and ensured that new editions of his father's works were published. Another son, Ronald, became a novelist. His daughter Mary was engaged to the artist Edward Robert Hughes until her death in 1878. Ronald's son, Philip MacDonald (George MacDonald's grandson), became a Hollywood screenwriter.
Tuberculosis caused the death of several family members, including Lilia, Mary Josephine, Grace, Maurice as well as one granddaughter and a daughter-in-law. MacDonalds was said to have been particularly affected by the death of Lilia, her eldest.
George MacDonald died on 18 September 1905 in Ashtead, Surrey, England. He was cremated in Woking, Surrey, England and his ashes were buried in Bordighera, in the English cemetery, along with his wife Louisa and daughters Lilia and Grace.
MacDonald appears to have never felt comfortable with some aspects of Calvinist doctrine, feeling that its principles were inherently "unfair"; when the doctrine of predestination was first explained to him, he burst into tears (although assured that he was one of the elect). Later novels, such as Robert Falconer and Lilith, show a distaste for the idea that God's electing love is limited to some and denied to others.
MacDonald rejected the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement as developed by John Calvin, which argues that Christ has taken the place of sinners and is punished by the wrath of God in their place, believing that in turn it raised serious questions about the character and nature of God. Instead, he taught that Christ had come to save people from their sins, and not from a Divine penalty for their sins: the problem was not the need to appease a wrathful God, but the disease of cosmic evil itself. MacDonald frequently described the atonement in terms similar to the Christus Victor theory. MacDonald posed the rhetorical question, "Did he not foil and slay evil by letting all the waves and billows of its horrid sea break upon him, go over him, and die without rebound—spend their rage, fall defeated, and cease? Verily, he made atonement!"
MacDonald was convinced that God does not punish except to amend, and that the sole end of His greatest anger is the amelioration of the guilty. As the doctor uses fire and steel in certain deep-seated diseases, so God may use hell-fire if necessary to heal the hardened sinner. MacDonald declared, "I believe that no hell will be lacking which would help the just mercy of God to redeem his children." MacDonald posed the rhetorical question, "When we say that God is Love, do we teach men that their fear of Him is groundless?" He replied, "No. As much as they were will come upon them, possibly far more. ... The wrath will consume what they call themselves; so that the selves God made shall appear."
However, true repentance, in the sense of freely chosen moral growth, is essential to this process, and, in MacDonald's optimistic view, inevitable for all beings (see universal reconciliation). He recognised the theoretical possibility that, bathed in the eschatological divine light, some might perceive right and wrong for what they are but still refuse to be transfigured by what he perceived to be the fiery operation of God's love, but he did not think this likely.
In this theology of divine punishment, MacDonald stands in opposition to Augustine of Hippo, and in agreement with the Greek Church Fathers Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa—although it is unknown whether MacDonald had a working familiarity with patristics or Eastern Orthodox Christianity. MacDonald states his theological views most distinctly in the sermon "Justice", found in the third volume of Unspoken Sermons.
The following is a list of MacDonald's published works in the genre now referred to as fantasy:
The following is a list of MacDonald's published works of fiction. Noted alongside the original publications from MacDonald's hand, in parentheses, are modern adaptations in American English, targeted for general and young readers, most edited by Michael R. Phillips, many from the publisher Bethany House (see for instance, the entry for Sir Gibbie).
The following is a list of MacDonald's published poetic works:
The following is a list of MacDonald's published works of non-fiction:
Ashanti (also called Ashanti, Land of No Mercy) is a 1979 action adventure film, produced by Georges-Alain Vuille, and directed by Richard Fleischer. Despite its impressive cast and setting (on location in the Sahara, and in Kenya, Israel, and Sicily), it was widely panned by critics upon release. Michael Caine was reportedly very disappointed with the project and claims it was the third worst film along with his previous films The Magus and The Swarm (despite appearing in other failures in the 1980s), after director Fleischer and co-star Beverly Johnson, were both removed from filming two-thirds of the way through the shoot. Fleischer departed after being hospitalised with sunstroke. However, an interview with Ms. Johnson included on the 2013 Severin Films Blu-ray edition of Ashanti makes no reference to these "removals," suggesting that they may belong to myth.
This is one of William Holden's final films. Both Fleischer and cinematographer Tonti had previously worked together on Barabbas (1961).Black Ajax
Black Ajax is a historical novel by George MacDonald Fraser based on the career of Tom Molineaux.The father of Harry Flashman appears as a major character although the book is not part of the official Flashman series.As in those novels, several real life characters are depicted including:
Henry Somerset, 7th Duke of BeaufortCasanova (1987 film)
Casanova is a 1987 American made-for-television biographical romantic comedy film directed by Simon Langton. It depicts real life events of Giacomo Casanova.Force 10 from Navarone (film)
Force 10 from Navarone is a 1978 British-American war film loosely based on Alistair MacLean's 1968 novel of the same name. It is a sequel to the 1961 film The Guns of Navarone. The parts of Mallory and Miller are played by Robert Shaw (who died before the film was released) and Edward Fox, succeeding the roles originally portrayed by Gregory Peck and David Niven. It was directed by Guy Hamilton and also stars Harrison Ford, Carl Weathers, Barbara Bach, Franco Nero, and Richard Kiel.
The film gets its title from the Alistair MacLean book of the same name, but bears little resemblance to the narrative of the novel. The differences are so apparent that MacLean would go on to loosely adapt part of the screenplay into his 1982 book Partisans.George MacDonald Fraser
George MacDonald Fraser OBE FRSL (2 April 1925 – 2 January 2008) was a Scottish author who wrote historical novels, non-fiction books and several screenplays. He is best known for a series of works that featured the character Flashman.George Macdonald (archaeologist)
Sir George Macdonald (30 January 1862, Elgin – 9 August 1940, Edinburgh) was a British archaeologist and numismatist who studied the Antonine Wall.Mr American
Mr American is a 1980 novel by George MacDonald Fraser who described it as longer and more "conventional" than his usual work.Octopussy
Octopussy is a 1983 British spy film, the thirteenth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, and the sixth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond.
The film's title is taken from a short story in Ian Fleming's 1966 short story collection Octopussy and The Living Daylights, although the film's plot is original. It does, however, include a scene inspired by the Fleming short story "The Property of a Lady" (included in 1967 and later editions of Octopussy and The Living Daylights), while the events of the short story "Octopussy" form a part of the title character's background and are recounted by her.
Bond is assigned the task of following a general who is stealing jewels and relics from the Soviet government. This leads him to a wealthy Afghan prince, Kamal Khan, and his associate, Octopussy, and the discovery of a plot to force disarmament in Western Europe with the use of a nuclear weapon.
Octopussy was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, and was released in the same year as the non-Eon Bond film Never Say Never Again. The film was written by George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum, and Michael G. Wilson, and was directed by John Glen. The film earned $187.5 million against its $27.5 million budget and received mixed reviews, with praise being directed towards the action sequences and locations, and the plot and humour being targeted for criticism; Maud Adams' portrayal of the title character also drew polarised responses.Quartered Safe Out Here
Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection of the War in Burma is a military memoir of World War II written by the author of The Flashman Papers series of novels George MacDonald Fraser that was first published in 1993.
It describes in graphic and memorable detail Fraser's experiences as a 19-year-old private in The Border Regiment fighting with the British 14th Army against the Imperial Japanese Army during the latter stages of the Burma Campaign in late 1944 and 1945. This included his participation in the Battle of Meiktila and Mandalay and the Battle of Pokoku and Irrawaddy River operations.
The military historian Sir John Keegan wrote: "There is no doubt that it is one of the great personal memoirs of the Second World War." The book has also been praised by the English author Melvyn Bragg and the American playwright David Mamet.The book's title is a quotation from Rudyard Kipling's 1890 poem "Gunga Din" and is ironic since Fraser certainly was not "quartered safe out here" while serving in Burma during one of the final campaigns of the war.Red Sonja (film)
Red Sonja is a 1985 Dutch-American sword and sorcery action film directed by Richard Fleischer. The film introduces Brigitte Nielsen as the title character with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sandahl Bergman, Ronald Lacey, Ernie Reyes, Jr., Paul L. Smith and Pat Roach in supporting roles. The film features the sword-wielding Marvel Comics character Red Sonja, created by Roy Thomas, who first appeared in Marvel's Conan the Barbarian series (#23) in 1973. The film's character of Red Sonja was based on Red Sonya of Rogatino, a character created by Robert E. Howard appearing in his short story "The Shadow of the Vulture" (1934). The film acknowledges that it was "based on the character created by Robert E. Howard" in the introductory credits.
As in Howard's stories of Conan, the film takes place in the Hyborian Age, a fictional prehistoric time that had been depicted previously in the films Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer.Royal Flash (film)
Royal Flash is a 1975 film based on George MacDonald Fraser's second Flashman novel, Royal Flash. It stars Malcolm McDowell as Flashman. Additionally, Oliver Reed appeared in the role of Otto von Bismarck, Alan Bates as Rudi von Sternberg, and Florinda Bolkan played Lola Montez. Fraser wrote the screenplay and the film was directed by Richard Lester.
Though it received good reviews for its performances and action scenes, Royal Flash only had a limited release in cinemas.The Flashman Papers
The Flashman Papers is a series of novels and short stories written by George MacDonald Fraser, the first of which was published in 1969. The books centre on the exploits of the fictional protagonist Harry Flashman. He is a cowardly British soldier, rake and cad who is placed in a series of real historical incidents between 1839 and 1894. While the incidents and much of the detail in the novels have a factual background, Flashman's actions in the stories are either fictional, or Fraser uses the actions of unidentified individuals and assigns them to Flashman. Flashman is a character in the 1857 novel by Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown's School Days; Hughes' version of the character is a bully at Rugby School who is expelled for drunkenness. The character was then developed by Fraser, and appeared in the 1969 novel Flashman. Fraser went on to write a total of eleven novels and one collection of short stories featuring the character.
During the course of Fraser's novels, Flashman goes from his expulsion from school into the army. Although he is a coward who tries to run away from any danger, he is involved in many famous military episodes from the 19th century, often taking actions that cause or affect subsequent events, such as his flatulence affecting the Charge of the Light Brigade, or being the person who probably shot George Armstrong Custer. When circumstances run against him and he is forced to fight, he often does so bravely and capably. Despite his cowardice and his attempts to flee, he becomes a decorated war hero and rises to the rank of brigadier-general. He also meets people who either were notable at the time—such as Benjamin Disraeli and the Duke of Wellington—or who became well-known after Flashman met them—such as Abraham Lincoln. Flashman either has, or tries to have, sex with most of the female characters: by the end of the ninth book he estimates that he has had sex with 480 women.
The publication sequence of the books differs from the fictional chronology, with the timeframe of some books overlapping. One of the novels, Flashman and the Redskins, is in two parts: part one takes place in 1849–50, while the second covers 1875–76. Although the main series of stories finishes in 1894, Flashman lives on until 1915 and appears in his late 80s in another Fraser novel, Mr American.The Four Musketeers (1974 film)
The Four Musketeers (also known as The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge) is a 1974 Richard Lester film that serves as a sequel to his The Three Musketeers, and covers the second half of Dumas' 1844 novel The Three Musketeers.
Fifteen years after completion of The Four Musketeers, much of the cast and crew reassembled to film The Return of the Musketeers (1989), loosely based on Dumas' Twenty Years After (1845).The Light Princess (Original Cast Recording)
The Light Princess (Original Cast Recording) is the commercial music release from the stage adaptation of the Scottish fairy tale by George MacDonald.
The Light Princess was the first stage musical to feature original compositions by singer-songwriter Tori Amos. The play debuted at London's Royal National Theatre on 9 October 2013 with music and lyrics by Amos and book and lyrics by Australian playwright and screenwriter Samuel Adamson.
The story centres around teenage princess Althea of Lagobel who lost gravity when refusing to mourn over her mother’s death and is therefore bound to float above ground. When war breaks out Althea, pushed by her father to come to ground and take responsibility, flees only to fall in love with the rivalling kingdoms prince.
The musical opened to positive reviews in September 2013, starring Rosalie Craig in the titular role, subsequently singled out as a stand-out performance. Craig was nominated for many awards, and ultimately won the Evening Standard's award for best actress in a musical. The choreography, lighting, set design, music (Amos) and other cast performances were also lauded and nominated for a range of awards. In 2014, Amos stated that the production team had ambitions of bringing The Light Princess to American Broadway, but expressed worry that the original National Theatre production might not be commercial enough for the American audience.The Original Cast Recording features 30 original recordings by the cast plus three bonus tracks, including two performed by Amos.An early incarnation of the song "Coronation" appeared on Tori Amos's seasonal album Midwinter Graces in 2009. Then known as "Winter's Carol", much of the song's core melody remains the same as the version that would become "Coronation". In its place as the closing number of The Light Princess, the lyrics, structure and arrangements have been almost completely re-written, though some lyrical content remains similar to "Winter's Carol".The Prince and the Pauper (1977 film)
The Prince and the Pauper (US title: Crossed Swords) is a 1977 action adventure film directed by Richard Fleischer, based on The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. It stars Oliver Reed, Ernest Borgnine, Raquel Welch, George C. Scott, Charlton Heston, Sir Rex Harrison, and Mark Lester, playing the dual role of Edward VI of England and Tom Canty.The Princess and the Goblin
The Princess and the Goblin is a children's fantasy novel by George MacDonald. It was published in 1872 by Strahan & Co.
Anne Thaxter Eaton writes in A Critical History of Children's Literature that The Princess and the Goblin and its sequel "quietly suggest in every incident ideas of courage and honor." Jeffrey Holdaway, in the New Zealand Art Monthly, said that both books start out as "normal fairytales but slowly become stranger", and that they contain layers of symbolism similar to that of Lewis Carroll's work.The Return of the Musketeers
The Return of the Musketeers is a 1989 film adaptation loosely based on the novel Twenty Years After (1845) by Alexandre Dumas. It is the third Musketeers film directed by Richard Lester, following 1973's The Three Musketeers and 1974's The Four Musketeers. Like the other two films, the screenplay was written by George MacDonald Fraser.
The character of Mordaunt, Milady de Winter's son in the original novel, is replaced by Milady's daughter, called Justine de Winter.
Several cast members from the first two reprised their roles in this one. Jean-Pierre Cassel, who played Louis XIII in the original films, has a cameo appearance as Cyrano de Bergerac.
While filming was taking place in September 1988, character actor Roy Kinnear died following an on-camera accident in which he fell off a horse. His role was completed by using a stand-in, filmed from the rear, and dubbed-in lines from a voice artist.The Steel Bonnets
The Steel Bonnets is a 1971 historical non-fiction book by George MacDonald Fraser about the Border Reivers.Fraser researched the book with his wife. It concentrates mainly on the 16th century, and seeks to de-glamourise the period in some ways.The Three Musketeers (1973 film)
The Three Musketeers (also known as The Three Musketeers: The Queen's Diamonds) is a 1973 film based on The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. It was directed by Richard Lester and written by George MacDonald Fraser. It was originally proposed in the 1960s as a vehicle for The Beatles, whom Lester had directed in two other films.
The film adheres closely to the novel, and also injects a fair amount of humor. It was shot by David Watkin, with an eye for period detail. The fight scenes were choreographed by master swordsman William Hobbs.