At the Back of the North Wind

( 25 )

Overview

George MacDonald's best-known fantasy has enchanted generations of children and adults since it was first published in London over a century ago. Considered to be a landmark in the development of the children's novel, this enthralling fairy tale is just as endearing today.

Modern readers will thrill to the story of little Diamond and the tall, majestic North Wind - the lady whose dark eye blazed and whose glistening black hair streamed around behind her. They and their fantastic...

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At The Back Of The North Wind

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Overview

George MacDonald's best-known fantasy has enchanted generations of children and adults since it was first published in London over a century ago. Considered to be a landmark in the development of the children's novel, this enthralling fairy tale is just as endearing today.

Modern readers will thrill to the story of little Diamond and the tall, majestic North Wind - the lady whose dark eye blazed and whose glistening black hair streamed around behind her. They and their fantastic tale are vividly portrayed in eight full-color paintings by Jessie Willcox Smith, one of America's most beloved illustrators.

This facsimile of the rare 1919 edition is sure to be treasured by young and old alike.

Moonbeam Awards: Young Adult Fiction- Religion/Spirituality - Bronze
Mom's Choice Awards Recipient - Silver

I have been asked to tell you about the back of the north wind. An old Greek writer mentions a people who lived there, and were so comfortable that they could not bear it any longer, and drowned themselves. My story is not the same as his. I do not think Herodotus had got the right account of the place. I am going to tell you how it fared with a boy who went there.

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Editorial Reviews

Doug Thorpe University of Saskatchewan
"This is a remarkable edition, situating a fascinating text in a number of provocative contexts. The annotations provide informative social and historical background while also following textual traces to other MacDonald texts, and to the varied sources used by this highly eclectic Victorian author. The edition pays particular attention to Arthur Hughes's marvellous illustrations, which are not only reproduced but fully contextualized by original essays appended to the edition. The full apparatus gives us the text but also its worlds, from the streets of London to the imaginary vistas of myth and fairy tale. As an added treat, the eminent literary critic Stephen Prickett has furnished a rich and densely suggestive Preface."
George Bodmer Indiana University Northwest
"Broadview Editions' new edition of George MacDonald's 1871 fairy tale is an excellent and enlightening look at this significant event in children's literature. With an abundance of supporting material, this volume is veritably a course in the Victorian fairy tale, setting the story in context with nineteenth-century Britain, anticipating the reader's questions, and addressing the controversies. There is much to be learned from this work."
Ulrich Knoepflmacher
"This eagerly awaited edition of a major children's classic of the Victorian era wonderfully fulfills its ambitious aims. Not only do McGillis and Pennington validate the cultural importance once held by At the Back of the North Wind, but also manage to highlight this hybrid fantasy-book's appeal to readers in the Age of Harry Potter. Appendices that place the book into different kinds of contexts; the careful textual annotations; and, above all, the attention paid to visual matters—Arthur Hughes's illustrations, as well as other cartoons, maps, and anatomies—make this a truly indispensable item."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781495300288
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 1/23/2014
  • Pages: 222
  • Sales rank: 300,206
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

George MacDonald (I824-1905) was born and educated in Scotland. A poet and novelist, he is the author of more than fifty books, including Phantastes (l858), Dealing with the Fairies (1667), The Princess and the Goblin (1871), and The Princess and Curdie (1882). Having once declared, "I do not write for children, but for the childlike, whether of five, or fifty, or seventyfive," he is today best remembered as the creator of numerous beloved fantasies and fairy tales.

Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935) was one of the most popular and successful American illustrators of the early twentieth century. A student at Howard Pyle's Brandywine School of American Illustration, her hundreds of magazine illustrations and more than forty illustrated books include Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses (1905), Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies (1916), and George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind (1919) and The Princess and the Goblin (1920).

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Read an Excerpt

At the Back of the
North Wind


Chapter I


The Hay-Loft


I have been asked to tell you about the back of the North Wind. An old Greek writer mentions a people who lived there, and were so comfortable that they could not bear it any longer, and drowned themselves. My story is not the same as his. I do not think Herodotus had got the right account of the place. I am going to tell you how it fared with a boy who went there.

He lived in a low room over a coach-house; and that was not by any means at the back of the North Wind, as his mother very well knew. For one side of the room was built only of boards, and the boards were so old that you might run a penknife through into the north wind. And then let them settle between them which was the sharper! I know that when you pulled it out again the wind would be after it like a cat after a mouse, and you would know soon enough you were not at the back of the North Wind. Still, this room was not very cold, except when the North Wind blew stronger than usual: the room I have to do with now was always cold, except in summer, when the sun took the matter into his own hands. Indeed, I am not sure whether I ought to call it a room at all; for it was just a loft where they kept hay and straw and oats for the horses. And when little Diamondbut stop: I must tell you that his father, who was a coachman, had named him after a favorite horse, and his mother had had no objection:—when little Diamond then lay there in bed, he could hear the horses under him munching away in the dark, or moving sleepily in their dreams. For Diamond's father had builthim a bed in the loft with boards all round it, because they had so little room in their own end over the coach-house; and Diamond's father put old Diamond in the stall under the bed, because he was a quiet horse, and did not go to sleep standing, but lay down like a reasonable creature. But, although he was a surprisingly reasonable creature, yet, when young Diamond woke in the middle of the night, and felt the bed shaking in the blasts of the north wind, he could not help wondering whether, if the wind should blow the house down, and he were to fall through into the manger, old Diamond mightn't eat him up before he knew him in his nightgown. And although old Diamond was very quiet all night long, yet when he woke he got up like an earthquake, and then young Diamond knew what o'clock it was, or at least what was to be done next, which was-to go to sleep again as fast as he could.

There was hay at his feet and hay at his head, piled up in great trusses to the very roof. Indeed it was sometimes only through a little lane with several turnings,, which looked as if it had been sawn out for him, that he could reach his bed at all. For the stock of hay was, of course, always in a state either of slow ebb or of sudden flow. Sometimes the whole space of the loft, with the little panes in the roof for the stars to look in, would lie open before his open eyes as he lay in bed; sometimes a yellow wall of sweet-smelling fibres closed up his view at the distance of half a yard. Sometimes, when his mother had undressed him in her room, and told him to trot away to bed by himself, he would creep into the heart of the hay, and lie there thinking how cold it was outside in the wind, and how warm it was inside there in his bed, and how he could go to it when he pleased, only he wouldn't just yet; he would get a little colder first. And ever as he grew colder, his bed would grow warmer, till at last he would scramble out of the hay, shoot like an arrow into his bed, cover himself up, and snuggle down, thinking what a happy boy he was. He had not the least idea that the wind got in at a chink in the wall, and blew about him all night. For the back of his bed was only of boards an inch thick, and on the other side of them was the north wind.

Now, as I have already said, these boards were soft and crumbly. To be sure, they were tarred on the outside, yet in many places they were more like tinder than timber. Hence it happened that the soft part having worn away from about it, little Diamond found one night, after he lay down, that a knot had come out of one of them, and that the wind was blowing in upon him in a cold and rather imperious fashion. Now he had no fancy for leaving things wrong that might be set right; so he jumped out of bed again, got a little strike of hay, twisted it up, folded it in the middle, and, having thus made it into a cork, stuck it into the hole in the wall. But the wind began to blow loud and angrily, and, as Diamond was falling asleep, out blew his cork and hit him on the nose, just hard enough to wake him up quite, and let him hear the wind whistling shrill in the hole. He searched for his hay-cork, found it, stuck it in harder, and was just dropping off once more, when, pop! with an angry whistle behind it, the cork struck him again, this time on the cheek.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Preface, Stephen Prickett
Introduction
George MacDonald: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text and Illustrations
At the Back of the North Wind
Appendix A: Good Words for the Young and the Serial Publication of At the Back of the North Wind
Mark Knight, Introduction: Good Words for the Young
Cover of Good Words for the Young (1869)
Norman Macleod, Editor's Address (1869)
Cover of Good Words for the Young (1870)
George MacDonald, Editor's Greeting (1 December 1870)
"The Mother's Prayer" (1869)
Two Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen(1 July 1870)
"The Rags"
"What the Whole Family Said"
"Up in Heaven" (1870)
Arthur Hughes, Illustration for Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood (1871)
Arthur Hughes, Illustration for The Princess and the Goblin (1872)
Appendix B: Children's Literature and the Victorian Consciousness
Review of At the Back of the North Wind, The Athenaeum (March 1871)
Mark Twain and George MacDonald
Letter from Twain to MacDonald (19 September 1882)
Letter from Twain to W.D. Howells (1899)
From Poems in Two Volumes, by William Wordsworth (1807)
"My heart leaps up" (written in 1802)
From "Ode: Intimations of Immorality from Recollections of Early Childhood" (written 1802-04)
George MacDonald, "The Child in the Midst" (1867)
Cartoon of MacDonald as "Goody Goody" (2 November 1872)
George Catermole, Illustration from Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop (1841)
Hammatt Billings, Illustration from Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)
Appendix C: Literary and Cultural Connections
From Aesop, "The North Wind and the Sun"
From Charles Kingsley, The Water-Babies (1863)
From Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
Henry Mayhew, "Crossing-Sweepers," London Labour and the London Poor (1852)
Appendix D: Victorian Fairy-Tale Debate
Charles Dickens, "Frauds on the Fairies" (1 October 1853)
From George Cruikshank, Cinderella and the Glass Slipper (1854)
John Ruskin, "Fairy Stories" (1868)
George Cruikshank, Illustration of "Rumple-Stilts-Kin" (1823)
George Cruikshank, Illustration of "The Elves and the Shoemaker" (1823)
George MacDonald, "The Fantastic Imagination" (1893)
Appendix E: Illustrations of At the Back of the North Wind
Jan Susina, Introduction: "The Brotherhood between George MacDonald and Arthur Hughes": Hughes's Illustrations to MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind
Robert Trexler, Five Early Illustrators of At the Back of the North Wind
Appendix F: Maps and Other Illustrative Images
Sandford Map of Central London, 1862
Sandford Map of Central London, 1862 (detail)
Maps of Hyperborean Region
Parts of a Horse
Parts of a Hansom Cab
Currency in Victorian England
Works Cited
Select Bibliography
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 25 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Captivating

    I listened to a radio drama of this book before I read it and I didn't think I'd like the actual book. But I fell in love with it. MacDonald is so discriptive and the characters are amazing. I found myself longing for North Wind to visit me...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2014

    Amazing.....!Excellent......!Just enjoy it.....!

    Amazing.....!Excellent......!Just enjoy it.....!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

    At the Back of the North Wind

    This was te worst book ever!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2012

    Great book but dificult to read at times

    I thought this was a sweet book but at points it was dificult to read. Not from old english but bad spelling.

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  • Posted August 19, 2011

    Awful spelling

    I could not get to the seconed chapter because of the spelling otherwise it seems like a good book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2011

    Timeless

    I remember getting this book as a gift when I was a child and I loved it. I could not put it down, even at 10. Many years later, I discovered the book was still at home on the bookshelf and I had so many fond memories of it that I had to read it again. Still just as magnificent. The descriptions just take you right there and you live it. Amazing... even after all these years.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    GREAT,WONDERFULL,MELONCOLY.

    I love this book. This book is preciuse.It is not a book led by a herion with magical powers she never belived her self to have or a boy who learns to be the most amazing wiserd or magicion in the land.Its about wisdom,beauty,just plain simpleness that no one can resist. truth, homur, and an increadibly story about the faith of a child.(I sound cheesy sorry)Anyway if the book inspired J.R.R.Tolken then I say give it a try.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    Beautiful Book

    This is a wonderful book, I had to read it for one of college courses and my Professor taught us about how MacDonald's works had heavily influenced C.S. Lewis' life and writings. I was curious to see for myself what was so great and unique about this author. When i was done reading the book, i had laughed, cried, smiled and learned so much from it. I absolutely loved this book. It presents questions and answers to some of life's important questions. MacDonald's writing style is entertaining, easy to read and inspirational. I recommend this book to all fantasy lovers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2008

    A reviewer

    Im not the type of person to like this type of book usually but i absolutely loved it. it has so many turns and twists you never know whats coming. i completely loved it and hope anybody else who reads it enjoys it as much as i did

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted July 20, 2013

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    Posted July 1, 2011

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    Posted January 27, 2011

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    Posted January 5, 2012

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    Posted December 9, 2009

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    Posted February 9, 2011

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    Posted October 28, 2008

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