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George MacDonald Senior and Wife Helen - Click To Enlarge

Parents
(My complete GMD bio/commentary is here).
Bibliography

 

 

C.S. Lewis has already made sufficiently known to most people the major anecdotes pertaining to George MacDonald's parents and grandparents, particularly the incidents concerning his father's loss of a leg as well as the vision his father had of George's dead brother--John. These are gone over again in some greater detail in the full length biography. George MacDonald's father and his father's brother, James, owned and operated a bleach mill for many years. Young George's mother, Helen (nee MacKay, but not to be confused with George Junior's cousin of the same name), died when he was eight years of age after struggling with tuberculosis for quite some time. By all accounts she was a kind and wise woman. George Senior remarried seven years later to Margaret McColl, a woman that young George and his siblings would always refer to as "mother". She also was someone the family spoke of with great respect. Except for her daughter--Jane--she would actually outlive George Junior and all his siblings dying in 1910 at the old age of one hundred and two. George MacDonald Junior had five brothers from his father's first marriage and three sisters from the second. The MacDonald clan was of Gaelic decent for the most part.

George MacDonald's Grandmother - Isabella, Click to EnlargeBefore Margaret McColl came into the family, the boys were, more often than not, tended to by their paternal grandmother, Isabella, a staunch Calvinist but a kindly woman in most regards. George would pattern many characters in his stories after her, especially the grandmother in Robert Falconer. He would also pattern the main character of David Elginbrod after his father. Basing characters in his tales after real life people, as well as including real life incidents, was something George MacDonald did throughout his literary career.

When Margaret McColl first married George MacDonald Senior, Greville tells us she was stunned by how polite and well-behaved the boys were, and how they would always go to open the door when one of their elders got up to leave. George Senior was a good and proper disciplinarian who would only show great anger when the children disobeyed. He would simply smile, or perhaps give a mild warning when necessary, when they committed other grievances.

Not much more really need be said of the family history except perhaps that growing up on a Scottish farm during the industrial revolution made a huge imprint on George MacDonald. He maintained a terrible distaste for mechanized work and machinery that would rival that of so many other writers of 19th century literature. This would partially account for his fondness of nature and cherished solitude that he carried with him throughout his life.

 

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