Tag Archives: George MacDonald

Free George MacDonald Books

George MacDonald was a Scottish preacher and author who holds today a profound unseen influence in the genres of theology and fantasy. His realistic fiction was a blend of romance and theology; he also had his own way of telling “fairy stories,” which helped popularize fantasy as a genre.

MacDonald passed away in 1905, so everything published by him in his lifetime is out of copyright. Here is where you can read his works for free:

Free George MacDonald books (PDF) on the Internet Archive (50+)
Free George MacDonald books in the Kindle Store (40+)
Free George MacDonald audiobooks on LibriVox (40+)
Free George MacDonald books on ManyBooks
Free George MacDonald books on the Online Books Page (60+)
Free George MacDonald books on Project Gutenberg (50+)

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Free George MacDonald PDFs

The following is a complete list of George MacDonald’s books that are available for free in PDF format from the Internet Archive. Abridged titles are given in parentheses.

  1. Adela Cathcart, containing “The Light Princess”, “The Shadows”, and other short stories
  2. Alec Forbes of Howglen (= The Maiden’s Bequest)
  3. Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood (★★★★★)
  4. At the Back of the North Wind
  5. Beautiful Thoughts from George MacDonald (compilation)
  6. Cheerful Words from the Writing of George MacDonald (compilation)
  7. David Elginbrod (= The Tutor’s First Love)
  8. Dealings with the Fairies, containing “The Golden Key”, “The Light Princess”, “The Shadows”, and other short stories
  9. Diary of an Old Soul (★★★★)
  10. “The Disciple” and Other Poems
  11. A Dish of Orts (essays)
  12. Donal Grant (= The Shepherd’s Castle), a sequel to Sir Gibbie
  13. Dramatic and Miscellaneous Poems
  14. The Elect Lady (= The Landlady’s Master)
  15. England’s Antiphon (a history of religious poetry)
  16. Far Above Rubies
  17. The Flight of the Shadow
  18. The Gifts of the Child Christ and Other Tales (= Stephen Archer and Other Tales)
  19. Guild Court: A London Story (= The Prodigal Apprentice)
  20. Gutta Percha Willie, the Working Genius (= The Genius of Willie MacMichael)
  21. Heather and Snow (= The Peasant Girl’s Dream) (★★★)
  22. “A Hidden Life” and Other Poems
  23. Home Again: A Tale (= The Poet’s Homecoming)
  24. The Hope of the Gospel (★★)
  25. Lilith: A Romance
  26. Malcolm (updated under the same title)
  27. The Marquis of Lossie (= The Marquis’ Secret), the sequel of Malcolm (★★★★)
  28. Mary Marston (= A Daughter’s Devotion or The Shopkeeper’s Daughter)
  29. The Miracles of Our Lord (sermons) (★★★★★)
  30. Paul Faber, Surgeon (= The Lady’s Confession), a sequel to Thomas Wingfold, Curate
  31. Phantastes: A Fairie Romance for Men and Women (★★)
  32. The Portent
  33. The Princess and the Goblin (★★★★★)
  34. The Princess and Curdie, a sequel to The Princess and the Goblin (★★★★★)
  35. Rampolli: Growths from a Long-planted Root
  36. Ranald Bannerman’s Boyhood (= The Boyhood of Ranald Bannerman)
  37. Robert Falconer (= The Musician’s Quest) (★★★★★)
  38. A Rough Shaking (= The Wanderings of Clare Skymer)
  39. St. George and St. Michael
  40. Salted with Fire (= The Minister’s Restoration)
  41. Scotch Songs and Ballads
  42. The Seaboard Parish, a sequel to Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood (★★★★★)
  43. Sir Gibbie (= The Baronet’s Song) (★★★★★)
  44. Thomas Wingfold, Curate (= The Curate’s Awakening) (★★★★★)
  45. There and Back (= The Baron’s Apprenticeship), a sequel to Paul Faber, Surgeon (★★★★★)
  46. The Threefold Cord: Poems by Three Friends
  47. The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke: A Study With the Test of the Folio of 1623
  48. Unspoken Sermons (1st series2nd series3rd series) (★★★★★)
  49. The Vicar’s Daughter, a sequel to Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood and The Seaboard Parish
  50. Warlock o’ Glenwarlock (= Castle Warlock and The Laird’s Inheritance)
  51. Weighed and Wanting (= The Gentlewoman’s Choice) (★★)
  52. What’s Mine’s Mine (= The Highlander’s Last Song)
  53. Wilfrid Cumbermede
  54. The Wise Woman: A Parable (= “The Lost Princess: A Double Story” or “A Double Story”)
  55. Within and Without: A Dramatic Poem

Although all of George MacDonald’s works are out of copyright, this list does not include everything he has written. If you want a more complete list, you can check out our Complete Bibliography of George MacDonald.

Review: The Diary of an Old Soul

Rating: ★★★★

Full Title: A Book of Strife in the Form of the Diary of an Old Soul.

Who: George MacDonald, 19th-century Scottish preacher, poet, and novelist. He had a profound influence on C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and many others.

Overview: MacDonald arranged this book into 366 daily readings, most of which are devotional and meditative. Each day has a seven-line stanza, many of which are addressed as prayers. (John Keble, an Anglican, had produced the much more popular “Christian Year” about 50 years earlier.)

This is probably MacDonald’s best book of poetry, though he has many. His poetry is a mix of the sentimental (very accessible) and more classical attempts (very inaccessible).

Meat: The stanzas here are simple, devotional thoughts and prayers, many of which can help to express a longing for God. Like the Epistle of James, MacDonald is always stirring his readers to be “doers, and not hearers only.” He speaks from the heart and speaks to the root of the spiritual life.

Bones: MacDonald’s poetry here is simple, and occasionally simplistic. My only other criticism is that MacDonald is so introspective. It can be rather angsty at times.

Quotes:

“When I no more can stir my soul to move,
And life is but the ashes of a fire;
When I can but remember that my heart
Once used to live and love, long and aspire,—
Oh, be thou then the first, the one thou art;
Be thou the calling, before all answering love,
And in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire.”
(January 10)

This book is free on Kindle, Project Gutenberg, and on LibriVox.

Review: Phantastes (No Spoilers)

Rating: ★★★

Who: George MacDonald, 19th-century Scottish preacher, poet, and novelist. He had a profound influence on C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and many others.

Overview: This book is a mixed genre foray into fantasy, written very early in MacDonald’s career. The story is framed as an episodic journey, but it incorporates many sideplots and poems, so that many chapters are only loosely strung to the narrative. This relatively difficult book has some dark themes and is written primarily for an adult audience.

The plots and subplots deal with themes of imagination, bondage and freedom, love and infatuation. Anodos falls in love with a statue, but cannot free her from her pedestal; Anodos is warned about the Ash Tree, which is precisely who he finds himself encountering; and so on.

Meat: This book had great appeal for C. S. Lewis—before his conversion—and wrote in Surprised By Joy that it “baptized [his] imagination.” For my own part, I can say that some of the images and metaphors were profound; others, rather protracted. This is definitely one of MacDonald’s most ambitious works of fiction, and may appeal to more ambitious readers.

Bones: When C. S. Lewis recommends a novel, one expects to see sweeping themes like those of the Space trilogy, or elegant metaphors like those of Narnia; I didn’t find either to be in large number here. The fantasy is more of art for art’s sake, or language for language’s sake; it was costly reading with no payoff.

I am a great fan of George MacDonald, but not a fan of his darker work. (I should add, Lewis has pointed me to other fantasy works that I found disappointing, like those of Charles Williams.)

Quotes: “We receive but what we give.” (loc. 854)

“The waters lay so close to me, they seemed to enter and revive my heart. I rose to the surface, shook the water from my hair, and swam as in a rainbow, amid the coruscations of the gems below seen through the agitation caused by my motion. Then, with open eyes, I dived, and swam beneath the surface. And here was a new wonder. For the basin, thus beheld, appeared to extend on all sides like a sea, with here and there groups as of ocean rocks, hollowed by ceaseless billows into wondrous caves and grotesque pinnacles. Around the caves grew sea-weeds of all hues, and the corals glowed between; while far off, I saw the glimmer of what seemed to be creatures of human form at home in the waters. I thought I had been enchanted; and that when I rose to the surface, I should find myself miles from land, swimming alone upon a heaving sea; but when my eyes emerged from the waters, I saw above me the blue spangled vault, and the red pillars around. I dived again, and found myself once more in the heart of a great sea.” (loc. 1089)

“Hardly knowing what I did, I opened the door. Why had I not done so before? I do not know.” (loc. 2448)

This book is free on Kindle, Project Gutenberg, and on LibriVox.

proving the unseen

Review: Proving the Unseen

Rating: ★★★★

Who: George MacDonald, 19th-century Scottish preacher, poet, and novelist. He had a profound influence on C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and many others.

Overview: This book is a rare glimpse into the spoken sermons of George MacDonald. Proving the Unseen was arranged and edited by William J. Petersen from sermons published in Christian World Pulpit in MacDonald’s lifetime. The sermons are reasonably short and have the same subject matter found in most of MacDonald’s books: The Fatherhood of God, the resurrection of Jesus, and the obedience of faith.

Meat: This book’s strength is that it is significantly easier to read than Unspoken Sermons, which many—unlike me—find too abstract. MacDonald’s spoken ministry as found here is surprisingly straightforward, and yet, the material has the same depth and spiritual sharpness. I especially enjoyed the titular sermon, “Faith, the Proof of the Unseen,” and “Alone with God.”

Bones: The sermons here are pretty short, so you may get the sense that MacDonald could say a lot more on each topic.

Quotes: “Often the very things that lift us up nearer to God are viewed by us as misfortunes. ‘How sad,’ we say, and console one another on the means that the Father of our spirits is using to cleanse our souls and to make us the very children of his heart.” (p. 61)

Author Guide: George MacDonald

This is a guide to the works of George MacDonald, including links to available PDFs on the Internet Archive. The books in each section are in chronological order.

If you want to see all of the ways to read MacDonald’s books for free, you can click here.
If you just want a straightforward alphabetical list of PDFs, you can find that here.

Fantasy

As a predecessor and an inspiration to 20th-century giants like Tolkien and Lewis, MacDonald may be considered by some as founding the modern fantasy genre. Many of these are clearly “fairy tales” from the beginning; others, like Phantastes and Lilith, experiment with genre.

The Curdie stories, The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie, are two of MacDonald’s most popular books.

Phantastes: A Fairie Romance for Men and Women (Our Review: ★★)
“Cross Purposes”
Adela Cathcart, containing “The Light Princess”, “The Shadows”, and other short stories
The Portent
Dealings with the Fairies, containing “The Golden Key”, “The Light Princess”, “The Shadows”, and other short stories
At the Back of the North Wind
The Princess and the Goblin (Our Review: ★★★★★)
The Wise Woman: A Parable (also published as “The Lost Princess: A Double Story”; or as “A Double Story”)
The Gifts of the Child Christ and Other Tales (republished as Stephen Archer and Other Tales)
The Day Boy and the Night Girl
The Princess and Curdie, a sequel to The Princess and the Goblin (Our Review: ★★★★★)
The Flight of the Shadow
Lilith: A Romance

Realistic fiction

MacDonald’s realistic novels, like good autobiography, centers around the developments within individual human souls. His novels usually have romantic elements, but this often takes a back seat to spiritual development. Fiction was a theological outlet for MacDonald, so the original printings include much more reflection and sermonic language; some of this is omitted in the new abridgements.

Beginners usually start with either Robert Falconer (Musician’s Quest in Michael Phillips’ edition), or There and Back (The Baron’s Apprenticeship).

I have tried to mark novels with Scotch dialogue by an asterisk.

David Elginbrod* (updated as The Tutor’s First Love)
Alec Forbes of Howglen* (updated as The Maiden’s Bequest)
Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Guild Court: A London Story (updated as The Prodigal Apprentice)
Robert Falconer (updated as The Musician’s Quest) (Our Review: ★★★★★)
The Seaboard Parish, a sequel to Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Ranald Bannerman’s Boyhood* (updated as The Boyhood of Ranald Bannerman)
Wilfrid Cumbermede*
The Vicar’s Daughter, a sequel to Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood and The Seaboard Parish
Gutta Percha Willie, the Working Genius* (updated as The Genius of Willie MacMichael)
Malcolm(updated under the same title)
St. George and St. Michael
Thomas Wingfold, Curate (updated as The Curate’s Awakening) (Our Review: ★★★★★)
The Marquis of Lossie* (updated as The Marquis’ Secret), the sequel of Malcolm (Our Review: ★★★★)
Paul Faber, Surgeon (updated as The Lady’s Confession), a sequel to Thomas Wingfold, Curate
Sir Gibbie* (updated as The Baronet’s Song) (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Mary Marston (updated as A Daughter’s Devotion and The Shopkeeper’s Daughter)
Warlock o’ Glenwarlock* (updated as Castle Warlock and The Laird’s Inheritance)
Weighed and Wanting (updated as The Gentlewoman’s Choice) (Our Review: ★★)
Donal Grant* (updated as The Shepherd’s Castle), a sequel to Sir Gibbie
What’s Mine’s Mine (updated as The Highlander’s Last Song)
Home Again: A Tale (updated as The Poet’s Homecoming)
The Elect Lady (updated as The Landlady’s Master)
A Rough Shaking (updated as The Wanderings of Clare Skymer)
There and Back (updated as The Baron’s Apprenticeship), a sequel to Paul Faber, Surgeon (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Heather and Snow* (updated as The Peasant Girl’s Dream) (Our Review: ★★★)
Salted with Fire* (updated as The Minister’s Restoration)
Far Above Rubies

Poetry

Diary of an Old Soul is MacDonald’s most popular book of poetry today. It is more reflective and generally introspective than devotional calendars used in his day like that of Keable. His popularity as a poet probably does not equal the ambition of these volumes, but a few of his short poems have great devotional merit.

Within and Without: A Dramatic Poem
Poems (1857)
“A Hidden Life” and Other Poems
“The Disciple” and Other Poems
Dramatic and Miscellaneous Poems
Diary of an Old Soul (Our Review: ★★★★)
The Threefold Cord: Poems by Three Friends (privately printed, with Greville Matheson and John Hill MacDonald)
Poems (1887)
The Poetical Works of George MacDonald (2 vol.)
Scotch Songs and Ballads
Rampolli: Growths from a Long-planted Root

Nonfiction

While MacDonald wrote a few books of literary studies, his five books of sermons are, in my opinion, the best thing he ever wrote. Some readers find Unspoken Sermons too philosophical to read straight through, yet it is filled with profound theological insight—most of C. S. Lewis’ George MacDonald anthology was pulled from this three-volume set. The Miracles of Our Lord is MacDonald at his most biblical, expository, and accessible, and The Hope of the Gospel is pretty similar but with a .

England’s Antiphon (a history of religious poetry)
The Miracles of Our Lord (sermons) (Our Review: ★★★★★)
The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke: A Study With the Test of the Folio of 1623
Unspoken Sermons (1st series, 2nd series, 3rd series) (Our Review: ★★★★★)
A Cabinet of Gems
(writings of Sir Phillip Sidney, comp. George MacDonald)
The Hope of the Gospel (sermons) (Our Review: ★★)
A Dish of Orts (expanded from Orts)
George MacDonald in the Pulpit
Getting to Know Jesus
(edited sermons)
Proving the Unseen
(edited sermons) (Our Review: ★★★★)

Compilations

God’s Words to His Children (sermons & sermonic novel excerpts)
Works of Fancy and Imagination
(multi-volume, short stories & poetry)
Cheerful Words from the Writing of George MacDonald (comp. E. E. Brown)
George MacDonald: An Anthology (comp. C. S. Lewis)
Beautiful Thoughts from George MacDonald (comp. Elizabeth Dougall)
Knowing the Heart of God (comp. Michael Phillips)
Discovering the Character of God 
(comp. Michael Phillips)

Review: Heather and Snow (The Peasant Girl’s Dream) (No Spoilers)

Rating: ★★★

Who: George MacDonald, 19th-century Scottish preacher, poet, and novelist. He had a profound influence on C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and many others.

Where: Rural 19th-century Scotland.

Overview: Heather and Snow, which Michael Phillips republished as The Peasant Girl’s Dream, is one of George MacDonald’s Scottish novels. The novel opens on Francis and Kirsty running a race on a highland hillside. Both are ambitious, even stubborn. Kirsty and her family are tenant farmers on the land of Francis’ family. But as they grow, tension comes between them. Kirsty and her feeble-minded brother Steenie grow in tenderness and maturity in the light of Christ, while Francis becomes proud. The story turns on Francis’ pride, and Kirsty’s refusal to let him waste his life.

Readers looking for a romance per se will be disappointed as the budding romance in this novel is sidelined by faith and obedience—a common pattern in MacDonald’s realistic novels.

Meat: MacDonald, in the characters of both Steenie and Francis, deals with various forms of mental illness (depression, trauma) and even retardation. As in almost all of his novels, in the end, the love of our neighbor is the only door out of the dungeon of self. MacDonald has a refreshing way of showing the impact of friendship on spiritual life.

Bones: The original edition fully justifies Michael Phillips’ mission of updating the language of MacDonald’s books; speaking as a linguist, armed with a dictionary, the Scottish dialect here is challenging. I wouldn’t recommend MacDonald’s Scottish novels in the original editions unless you just love language. You can pick up the updated edition, The Peasant Girl’s Dream, very cheaply.

Quotes: “The story of God’s universe lies in the growth of the individual soul.” (p. 21)

“She could not sit still and look on the devil’s work.” (p. 93)

“The Lord’s gowk’s better nor the warl’s prophet.” (Or, “The Lord’s fool is better than the world’s prophet.”) (p. 125)

“Let her be prepared for the best as well as for the worst!” (p. 147, loc. 2328)

“One of the hardest demands on the obedience of faith is—to do nothing; it is often so much easier to do foolishly!” (p. 148)

“It seems to me there’s no shame in being frightened, so long as you don’t serve and obey the fright, but trust in him that sees, and do what you have to do.” (updated, p. 186)