Introduced by Maria Tatar
Illustrated by Madalina Andronic
The tale of Princess Irene's quest to defeat an army of goblins is a treasured classic from George MacDonald, the master of children's fairy stories.
Princess Irene lives in a large house, ‘half castle, half farmhouse’, on the side of a mountain. She is cossetted and loved by the whole household, who look after her while her ‘king-papa’ is away travelling his kingdom. Little do they know that an army of goblins far below the ground is planning to storm the castle. To defeat them, Irene must rely for help on the miner boy, Curdie, and on her beautiful, mysterious great-great-grandmother, who secretly inhabits the castle tower.
‘I regarded him as my master’
George MacDonald was a pioneer of children’s fantasy literature and influenced writers such as E. Nesbit and J. R. R. Tolkien. C. S. Lewis said of MacDonald that, ‘I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him.’ This edition contains an introduction by Maria Tatar, Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature at Harvard University and an expert on folklore and fairy tales. The bold illustrations are by Madalina Andronic, a Romanian artist who draws inspiration from traditional fairy tales and Slavic folklore.
George Macdonald was born in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where his family, who were Congregationalists, both farmed and ran a linen and bleaching business. He was educated at King’s College, Aberdeen, graduating in 1844 with a degree in Science and Moral Philosophy. Whilst pursuing a literary career MacDonald was also briefly a Congregationalist minister in Arundel, Sussex from 1850 to 1853, but his unconventional views caused so many complaints from his congregation that he resigned. His life in the mid-1850s was filled with anxiety, hardship and ill health, but by the end of the decade he and his large family of eleven children had moved to London and he had begun his career as a writer: in 1855 he published his first book, Within and Without, and in 1857 a collection of poems, Phantastes. By the 1860s he had secured a place among the popular novelists of his day and worked as a professor of English Literature at Bedford College. Although he acquired a remarkable reputation during his lifetime as the author of over fifty books, he is more highly regarded today as a writer of children’s fiction and fantasy, notably At the Back of the North Wind (1871; reprinted by The Folio Society in 2009), The Princess and the Goblin (1872) and its sequel The Princess and Curdie (1881).
Maria Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology and teaches courses in German Studies, Folklore and Children’s Literature. Her recent publications include the bicentennial edition of The Annotated Brothers Grimm (W. W. Norton & Co., 2012), The Annotated Peter Pan (W. W. Norton & Co., 2011), Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood (W. W. Norton & Co., 2009), The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen (W. W. Norton & Co., 2007), Secrets Beyond the Door: ‘Bluebeard’ in Folklore, Fiction, and Film (Princeton University Press, 2006), The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales (W. W. Norton & Co., 2002), and Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood (Princeton University Press, 1992).
Madalina Andronic is a Romanian artist. She gained a BA in Graphic Design at the University of Fine Arts, Bucharest and an MA in Illustration at the University of the Arts London, Camberwell College of Arts. Andronic is fascinated by traditional fairy tales and Slavic folklore, always drawn to illustrating these stories in intricate detail and bright colours. She has illustrated three Romanian children’s books and has created advertising illustrations for high-profile clients worldwide.
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