The prolific writer and great Christian mind of G.K. Chesterton once wrote this about the book The Princess and the Goblin:

But in a certain rather special sense I for one can really testify to a book that has made a difference to my whole existence, which helped me to see things in a certain way from the start; a vision of things which even so real a revolution as a change of religious allegiance has substantially only crowned and confirmed. Of all the stories I ever read … it remains the most real, the most realistic, in the exact sense of the phrase the most like life. It is called The Princess and the Goblin, and is by George MacDonald….

In the next two weeks I am going to be doing a 3-4 part blog series on The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, and I would like to include some of your thoughts and/or experiences with the book. As a little guidance, you might consider answering one or more of the questions below (but don’t feel inhibited by them). Please leave any and all thoughts or comments that you have…no matter how brief or general. I really just want to hear from you!

Questions to Consider

1. When did you first read the book, and what were your first impressions?

2. Have you read the book as an adult? Impressions?

3. Any character or scene standout to you? Why?

4. Did the book clarify any aspect of faith for you?

5. Favourite quotes.


  1. Interestingly enough, I was just mulling over the possibility of writing a blog post about the Curdie books, and their powerful influence over me as a child reader and aspiring fantasy author. I happened to search up “George MacDonald” on Twitter and lo, I found this post!

    I can’t remember exactly what age I was when I first read The Princess and the Goblin, but I suspect I was at least nine or ten. My father, a full-time Bible teacher in the “open brethren”, had introduced me to Lewis and Tolkien by reading them aloud to my older brothers (bless him for it!) and I had plunged headlong into fairy tales, mythology, and all the “juvenile” (as they were then called) fantasy stories I could find as a result — L’Engle, Le Guin, Alexander, and so on. My father’s habit was to scour the Christian bookstores for fantasy stories that might interest me, and give them to me for birthdays and Christmas presents: a four-book set of the Curdie books, The Lost Princess and The Golden Key and Other Stories was the happy result.

    I have re-read the Curdie books, and read them out loud to my own children, at least ten or perhaps fifteen times since. They exerted an influence on me almost as powerful as that of Lewis and Tolkien, albeit in a more subtle way that I find difficult to describe. Interestingly enough the main and most obvious “borrowing” I did from MacDonald ended up being the same part that Lewis and Tolkien borrowed from him: the powerful imaginative element of the goblin tunnels leading to a vast, labyrinthine underground world. (We see it most clearly in The Hobbit when Bilbo must rescue the dwarves from the goblins, and again in LotR during the passage through Moria; in Lewis we find it most in The Silver Chair, when Eustace and Jill and Puddleglum venture underground to find Prince Rilian; and in my own books it manifests as the Delve, an abandoned tin mine which is both a place of safety and great danger for my Cornish piskey heroine and her people.)

    On a faith level, however, I find the symbolism of the young princess Irene following her “grandmother”‘s thread through the tunnels by touch more than sight, with the skeptical Curdie unable to see or feel the thread at all, is a marvellous use of spiritual metaphor — ringing true to Scripture and to life, without feeling contrived or preachy in the least. MacDonald had an amazingly deft way of weaving faith elements into his fiction in a way that seemed natural to the plot of the story and even enhanced it, while still containing a deeper truth and meaning that even the youngest child reader would find difficult to miss. I love that.

  2. Wow, I too read The Princess and The Goblin at a young age. I was 8 when I read it and 10 when I read The Princess and Curdie. It had a huge impact on me as a child. I tried to get other friends to read it but they found it too difficult. My favourite aspect of the book was the mysterious great-great grandmother. She was always there, always looking after Irene thought no one else was aware of her. I love the idea of following the thread even if it made no sense to follow it and looked as if it was leading to danger. I re-read the books as an adult and read them to my children some of which who have gone on to read GM’s other works of fantasy. I also met my husband through GM…not literally of course but we were both part of an email list which discussed his works. Sooo…huge fan! 🙂

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