The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

Two rings surrounding a person on a purple background.  Two open white pages on an orange background.  A black background with a white W.  A black background with a white symbol, that has a black play symbol in the middle.  A black background with a white tentacled cat.

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The Princess and the Goblin was published by George MacDonald through Strahan & Co. in 1872, with illustrations by Arthur Hughes. Its sequel, The Princess and Curdie, was published a year later.

Princess Irene is an 8 year whose father, the king, is absent, and whose mother is dead. Her only companion is Lottie, her nursemaid (at least until she and Lottie are saved from goblins by the young miner, Curdie). But goblins aren’t the only fantastical element of this novel. One rainy day, Irene comes across a beautiful lady that says she’s her great-great-grandmother. Not only must she figure out the story behind her great-great-grandmother, she has to avoid the sinister plan of the goblins to kidnap her and marry her to Harelip, their prince.

George MacDonald is an influential, although often underrated (if not forgotten) figure of fantasy literature. While he was originally minister of Trinity Congregational Church, his sermons were not well received. His salary was quickly cut and he lasted just 3 years in the position. After leaving as minister, he turned to writing fantasy in order to provide for his family. The publication of works such as PhantastesThe Princess and the Goblin, and At the Back of the North Wind have all culminated in him being considered the founding father of modern fantasy.

“I write, not for children but for the child-like, whether they be of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.” – George MacDonald

MacDonald has been influential to the great fantasy authors that followed in his footsteps: J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis – even Lewis Carroll, whom he helped publish his own masterpiece, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.