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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
MACDONALD, George (1824-1905)
Level of description
Collection (fonds)
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
4 boxes (0.04 cubic metres)


Name of creator(s)

MacDonald, George, 1824-1905, novelist and poet

Administrative / Biographical history

Born, 1824; educated at a school at his birthplace in Huntly, West Aberdeenshire, Scotland; attended King's College, Aberdeen, 1840-1845; entered theological college at Highbury, London, 1848; minister, congregational chapel, Arundel, Sussex, 1850-1853; relocates to Manchester, 1853; publishes first book of poetry, Within and without (London, 1855); recuperation from disease in Algiers, 1856; living in Hastings, Sussex, 1857-1860; publishes the prose romance, Phantastes , (London, 1858); settles in London and builds social contacts with literary figures such as John Ruskin, Matthew Arnold and Robert Browning, 1859; Professor of English Literature, Bedford College, London, 1859; lectures at King's College London, 1866-1868; lecture tour of United States, 1872; first performance of play, Pilgrim's Progress , 1877; due to ill health spends large part of year at home, Casa Coraggio, Borighera, Italy, 1881-1902; publishes Lilith ; died, 1905. Publications: Within and without (London, 1855); Phantastes , (London, 1858); David Elginbrod (London, 1863); Alec Forbes of Howglen (London, 1865); Robert Falconer (London, 1868); At the back of the north wind (London, 1871); The princess and the goblin (London, 1872); Wilfrid Cumbermede (London, 1872); Exotics. A translation of the spiritual songs of Novalis (London, 1876); The princess and Curdie (London, 1882); Lilith (London, 1895).

Archival history

Mainly presented by the George MacDonald Society and Mrs Freda Levson in 1997.

Content & structure

Scope and content

The collection mainly comprises correspondence, manuscript poems by George MacDonald, photographs, material relating to the membership of the George MacDonald Society and the publication of its journal, North wind , papers relating to plays performed by MacDonald and his family, and offprints of articles and ephemera including lecture timetables, 1845-1997, mainly compiled by Mrs Freda Levson; notably including original correspondence addressed to MacDonald and copies of letters from family members and friends such as his wife, Louisa Powell MacDonald, and John Ruskin, principally on MacDonald's health problems, Octavia Hill, Ruskin's relationship with Rose La Touche, MacDonald's preaching technique and on aspects of theology including the doctrine of providence, 1845-1932; correspondence between members of the Troup family, friends of the MacDonalds, including Charles Edward Troup and Frank Troup, with photographs and extracts from the Troups' published works, 1883-1995; correspondence with William Raeper, author of a biography entitled George MacDonald (Tring, 1987), compiled during its research, including with Lion Publishing, with surviving family members, and with libraries, notably the British Library and Yale University Library, 1984-1987; correspondence with Freda Levson and Richard MacDonald, descendants of George MacDonald, 1970-1982; photographs of MacDonald and family, his various residences and of visits by the George MacDonald Society to Bordighera, Italy, [1860-1986]; manuscript poems by MacDonald, 1876-1887; material relating to the staging of Pilgrim's progress and other drama by MacDonald, 1877-1977; copies of contributions to the journal of the George MacDonald Society, North wind , with proofs of the journal and supporting documentation, 1976-1996; press cuttings and reviews of publications and lecture tours by MacDonald, and of modern editions of his work, 1871-1997; timetables of lectures delivered by MacDonald, copies of library holdings of manuscript material on MacDonald, 1869-1985.

System of arrangement

Chronologically within subject classes.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive Services.

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids

Draft catalogue available online and in hard copy in the Archives reading room, King's College London.

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

King's College London College Archives

Related units of description

Aberdeen University, Special Libraries and Archives: correspondence and literary manuscripts (Ref.: MSS 1031, 2165-7, 2231, 2254, 2291, 2716-8); Dr Williams's Library, London: letters to Henry Allon, 1866-1891 (Ref.: MS 24110 (220-41); Harvard University, Houghton Library: correspondence and literary manuscripts, 1851-1905; Huntington Library, San Marino, California: correspondence, 1851-1894; Huntly Branch Library: literary manuscripts (Ref.: NRA(S) 3522); Manchester Archives and Local Studies: manuscripts; National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division: correspondence, 1862-1900 (Ref.: MS 9745); Nottingham University Library, Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections: letters to Henry Septimus Sutton (Ref.: NRA 12432 Sutton); Oxford University, Balliol College Library: Manuscript diary of an Old Soul (Ref.: MS 418); Yale University Libraries: Beinecke Library: correspondence.

Publication note

William Raeper, George MacDonald (Tring, 1987).

Description control

Archivist's Note

Sources: William Raeper, George MacDonald (Tring, 1987); Dictionary of national biography. Entry compiled by Geoff Browell.

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

Date(s) of descriptions

December 2000, updated 2016

Box List(s)

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  • Biographies
  • Communications media
  • Drama
  • English literature
  • European literature
  • Information sciences
  • Literary forms and genres
  • Literature
  • National literatures
  • Newspaper press
  • Periodicals
  • Photographs
  • Poetry
  • Press
  • Press cuttings
  • Prose
  • Publications
  • Theology
  • Visual materials

Personal names

  • Hill, Octavia, 1838-1912, Housing and Social reformer
  • Levson, Freda, fl 1970-1982
  • MacDonald, George, 1824-1905, Novelist and Poet
  • MacDonald, George, 1824-1905, Novelist and Poet
  • MacDonald, Louisa Powell, d 1902
  • MacDonald, Richard, fl 1970-1982
  • Raeper, William, fl 1987, Biographer
  • Ruskin, John, 1819-1900, Author, Artist and Social reformer
  • Troup, Frank, fl after 1845
  • Troup, Sir, Charles Edward, 1857-1941, Knight, Public servant

Corporate names

  • British Library
  • George MacDonald Society
  • King's College London College Archives
  • Lion Publishing
  • Yale University Library


  • Bordighera, Italy

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