One of his age's foremost novelists, George MacDonald produced a wide variety of writings, including poems, plays, reviews, essays, sermons, and translations. Today, however, he is remembered mainly as the father of modern fantasy, an acknowledged influence on such twentieth-century masters as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. Many of his fantasy works were written for young readers.
MacDonald was born December 10, 1824 into a large Scottish agricultural family in Aberdeenshire. George, along with several of the family's eleven children, suffered from tuberculosis; his mother died of the disease when he was eight. In 1840 he entered the University of Aberdeen, where he studied chemistry and physics. His discovery of English romance and German mystical literature diverted his interest from the natural to the supernatural world. Deciding that the ministry was his true vocation, he earned a seminary degree and, in 1851, was appointed to a Congregational Church near London. He married that same year. The central event of his life occurred shortly thereafter; his congregation forced him out of the ministry because of his supposedly unorthodox theology. His chief heresy lay in a lenient attitude towards unbelievers and heathens, who, he thought, were not necessarily damned to eternal punishment in hell.
Although MacDonald still believed the ministry was his true calling, he turned his energies to writing in order to earn a living for his growing...
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