24 – At the Back of the North Wind

Published in 1991 as Introduction to  At the Back of the North Wind, the Bethany House young reader’s edition of George MacDonald’s classic by the same name


            George MacDonald was a Scottish writer who lived in the last century (1824-1905) and wrote more than fifty books. He was a good friend of many famous authors such as Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Lewis Carroll (who wrote Alice in Wonderland) but is not as well known now as some of his friends.

            One of the things George MacDonald loved doing more than anything else was telling stories to children. He had eleven sons and daughters of his own and enjoyed making up stories for them. He wrote over a dozen books for children, and many more short stories, in addition to the thirty or forty books he authored for adults.

            George MacDonald came from a farming family who lived in the north of Scotland. All of his life he was extremely fond of horses, and it may have been in his own father’s stables that the first ideas for this book came to him.

            When he grew up, George MacDonald wrote a story about a little boy who liked to listen to the wind through the walls of his own hayloft. In fact, this story (which was first published in 1871) became MacDonald’s most popular book of all, and is still, more than a hundred years later, many people’s favorite MacDonald book. When George MacDonald first wrote At the Back of the North Wind, it was very long and some parts were a little hard to understand. People at that time talked differently than we do today, and books sounded different too. But since I enjoyed this story so much and wanted to share it with you, I thought I could shorten it a little and make the language easier for you to understand. That way you will be able to read and enjoy At the Back of the North Wind for yourself.

            I hope you enjoy little Diamond’s adventures with his friend North Wind. And I hope George MacDonald becomes your friend as he has mine, and that you will want to read more of his books after you have finished with this one.

Michael Phillips