The high def video of the recent “George MacDonald Poetry & Science” event on Zoom is now live on the Society’s YouTube channel. Well worth a watch if you missed it first time or want a recap!
Rev Dr. John McNeill, a member of the Board of Directors of the George MacDonald Society, has been collecting material on George MacDonald and nineteenth-century Scottish spirituality in general over the last thirty years. He was alerted by the great-great grandson of George MacDonald to the auction of the Group Portrait of the Broadlands Conferences (1887) at Dreweatts’ Auction House on Thursday 28th May with only one week to go. The Broadlands painting is an exceptional tribute to an era of pioneering Christianity. Figures represented include Hannah Pearsall-Smith, the inspirational Quaker; Emilia Gurney, the feminist social reformer; and our man George MacDonald of Huntly.
Remarkably, John was able to find enough money – a combination of loans and gifts – to make a bid for the painting with the support of the George MacDonald Society (GMS). After John’s viewing of the painting two days before the auction, Dreweatts were very keen that such an expert on the period and a devoted fan of George MacDonald should purchase the painting with the support of the GMS and keep it for the nation, and they were extremely helpful with their advice. His bid was successful!
The total price was £18,500, which includes the bid for the painting and the Buyer’s Premium plus VAT. Most of the purchase price was initially borrowed. There have been donations and gifts of £12,500 since the auction, leaving £6,000 (approximately $8,250) of loans that must be repaid. The Society needs your financial help to help complete securing this work. We need people of spiritual and artistic vision to gather round, moved by the same Spirit that inspired the Broadlands Conferences and stirred creative minds like George MacDonald.
The presence of George MacDonald alone makes the Broadlands painting a very significant cultural treasure. The goal is for this painting to be displayed in public spaces and perhaps, one day, housed in a space that highlights the importance of this ecumenical gathering to advance Christianity in Great Britain. However, we need your help to make this become a reality. The George MacDonald Society has set up a GoFundMe page and we would encourage you to support it. Please also share the link to the GoFundMe page widely and help get the word out there. The link is:
In addition, The Wayfarer Trust, an arts and media organisation founded by the writer Murray Watts more than twenty years ago is offering itself as a conduit for donations and Gift Aid (if you pay tax in the UK) to raise the outstanding money to purchase the painting. For contact details please visit
Some further background on the significance of the Broadland’s Conferences can be found here:
The George MacDonald Society is pleased to announce the first in a series of themed conversations—this time on on ‘MacDonald & The Poetry of Science.’ Too few today are aware of just how deeply impassioned this Christian ‘Sage of the Imagination’ was for the study and praxis of Science; indeed, his initial vocational dream was to enter that field. Join us online on October 7, 2021 from 7-9PM BST | 2-4PM EST, where we will be speaking with guest conversants Professor Tom McLeish (Professor of Natural Philosophy in Physics, University of York; author of The Poetry and Music of Science) and Dr Franziska Kohlt (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of York) about MacDonald, science, and the imagination.
This free event is open to members and non-members of the George MacDonald Society, but capacity is limited. Please email email@example.com for the Zoom link by 7th October, 12 noon EST to reserve your free space.
New Resource: Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson (with additional input from others in the Society) has put together a Biographical Introduction to George MacDonald and his Works. This is a good place to start, especially if you are relatively new to MacDonald.
There is a session by Wheaton College’s Dr Jerry Root on MacDonald’s Golden Key at this years online Rabbit Room Hutchmoot (8-10th October 2021). The Society’s President Malcolm Guite will also be a guest speaker on Saturday evening. Sessions are recorded for those who sign up and will be available until the end October. Go to www.hutchmoothomebound.com for more information.
Beginning today –> A fun & easy intro to one of the most influential books in Western Literature, and a favourite of George MacDonald’s –> https://100daysofdante.com. Familiarity with the whole ‘Commedia’ will deeply enrich your reading (and understanding) of George MacDonald. [Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson]
All creative people are inspired by those who preceded them, and in England’s Antiphon (Macmillan, 1868) the writer George MacDonald Review this truth in a choral image, showing writers as singers responding to each other. In acknowledgement of this connection, the George MacDonald Society met in 2014 to examine the debt that the Oxford myth-makers known as the Inklings (an informal group of writers associated with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien) owed to their predecessors. The selected papers presented in Informing the Inklings (edited by Michael Partridge and Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson) look from MacDonald back to Wordsworth, Coleridge, and others as well as forward, via the Inklings, to Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Bloomsbury, 2007). They contribute to an understanding of the development of mythopoesis over the last 200 years or so. (click on the link for the full review)https://readingreligion.org/books/informing-inklings?fbclid=IwAR2Y_IwSJ5O1iA8YRXKarqkkCGWlzboPGNATVsOf3LcmkgBGLo0krtGyLAM
Saturday 7th August 2021 5:00PM. Mannington Hall, Norfolk, NR11 7BB. Due to covid restrictions prior booking is essential. Limited tickets available.
Goblin Market Theatre Company are delighted to bring the live theatre version of The Princess and the Goblin to Norfolk’s Mannington Hall. This is an open air theatre event for families and children – be prepared to be completely enthralled by this world of fantasy and magic! Suitable for family members of all ages. Feel free to bring a picnic, but be careful of the goblins! For more information visit:
Here’s another Spell in the Library from Malcom Guite, this time about the opening of George MacDonald’s Lilith. Hope you enjoy it.