At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
George MacDonald was born on December 10th 1824 at Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland where he grew up with the Congregational Church, with its atmosphere of Calvinism to which George never really attached himself. His mother when he was only 8 and by 16 George was successful in obtaining a bursary to King’s College in Aberdeen and from which he also received his M.A. In 1846 George had his first poem published anonymously. By 1848 he was attending Highbury Theological College to study for the Congregational ministry and also engaged to Louisa Powell. By 1850 George was appointed as the pastor of Trinity Congregational Church in Arundel. Later that year he suffered his first severe haemorrhage in what was to become a lifelong battle with declining health. In his ministry his sermons were at odds with the Church and their more segmented views. Three years later he resigned from the pulpit. His collection of poems ‘Within and Without’ was published in 1855 and in 1858 so too was ‘Phantastes’. His career would now flourish and along with very successful lecture tours were published such classics as ‘At the Back of the North Wind’, ‘Wilfrid Cumbermede’, ‘The Princess and the Goblin’ and ‘Exotics’. From 1880 he and his family moved to Bordighera on the Riviera dei Fiori in Liguria, Italy, where he spent 20 years writing. But ill health continued to strike at him. By 1898 a stroke had taken his voice. In 1901 George and Louisa were able to celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary though sadly Louisa was to pass away on January 13th, 1902 whilst at Bordighera. On 18th September 1905 George MacDonald died at Sagamore, Ashtead in Surrey. He was cremated and his ashes buried at Bordighera, in the English cemetery, along with his wife Louisa and daughters Lilia and Grace.
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