(1824-1905) Scottish author and editor, father of Ronald MacDonald and grandfather of Philip MacDonald, perhaps now best known for his fantasies for children and his fairy tales [see Checklist]. His former occupation as a clergyman was reflected in his allegorical fantasies: Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women (1858), comprising a Pilgrim's Progress through a secondary world in search of adulthood; and Lilith: A Romance (1895; rev vt Lilith: A Romance: With Introductory Key, a Paraphrase of an Earlier Manuscript-Version, and Explanation of Notes 1924), the latter work being his closest to sf. Based on the premise that an infinite number of three-dimensional universes can exist in a four-dimensional frame (see Dimensions; Parallel Worlds), Lilith draws heavily from the Talmud in its enigmatic description of a quest, set in both this Universe and another, for the self. Mirrors and Doppelgangers are common in both tales. Lilith compares interestingly with David Lindsay's more outlandish A Voyage to Arcturus (1920). A posthumous assembly, The Visionary Novels: Phantastes: Lilith (omni 1954), contains a useful introduction by W H Auden.
After MacDonald's death, his son Greville wrote three fantasy novels as well as the biographical George MacDonald and his Wife (1924). [JE/JC]
see also: Adam and Eve; Fantasy Entries; SF Music.
born Huntley, Aberdeenshire, Scotland: 10 December 1824
died Ashtead, Surrey: 18 September 1905
for children (selected)
collections for children
for adults (selected)
- Adela Cathcart (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1864) [coll: published in three volumes: hb/]
- Adela Cathcart (New York: Munro, 1882) [rev: with title novel alone, all other stories cut: hb/]
- Far Above Rubies (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1899) [coll: hb/]
about the author
There is a mass of critical studies of MacDonald, of which we list only a small sample. Few attempts are made to describe his work as sf.
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