Mark Twain and George MacDonald

Mark Twain wed Livy Langdon in 1870 and, during the early weeks of their marriage, George MacDonald tagged along as the author of a novel (Robert Falconer) that Mark and Livy read together. That was Twain's first real exposure to McDonald’s writing and likely the only way he would have absorbed it. For MacDonald had obtained fame in Scotland writing novels steeped in Christian themes, core material that wouldn’t have interested Twain had he not fallen madly in love with Olivia Langdon, a staunch Christian.

Two years after their marriage, the Twain’s took advantage of an opportunity to meet George MacDonald as he and his wife Louisa traveled the USA on a lecture tour. That encounter spawned a warm and enduring couple relationship. Among other things, both couples shared a great admiration – approaching adoration – for the Jubilee Singers, a Black spiritual choral group from Fisk University. The MacDonald's were awed by a Jubilee Singer performance they attended near the end of their lecture tour and hurriedly went to see them perform once again. As one indication of the rapid formation of the friendship between the Twain’s and MacDonald’s, it took only a few weeks after the MacDonald tour had ended before the Twain's sailed abroad to visit them at their estate in London. Upon their arrival, George treated them to a surprise Jubilee Singers performance that he had arranged at the conclusion of his USA visit.

From that point forward, Mark and George frequently corresponded. There is speculation that they would have collaborated on a book to increase each others exposure on their respective continents if only their literary motives and styles had meshed. It is even possible each influenced the other in the creation of two of their most significant characters – the unforgettable Huckleberry Finn and MacDonald's Sir Gibbie. This, if true, would be odd considering they seemingly shared little in common besides their friendship and greatness as authors. But then, one never knows.

There is one other important thing that served to unite them, though—Twain’s daughters Susy and Clara adored McDonald's fantasy tale “At the Back of the North Wind’. Twain wrote MacDonald that he would send him a copy of “Life on the Mississippi” upon its issue and would  choose as a return compliment a copy of “At the Back of the North Wind’” to replace the one his children had nearly destroyed through repeated use.

The Adapted Classics Collection includes illustrated adaptations of three stories by Twain (Twain Illustrated) and one novella by MacDonald (The Carasoyn).  View and/or download a FREE pdf version of Twain Illustrated  here!

Big News! The Midwest Publishers Association (MIPA) has named Twain Illustrated finalist for Best Short Story Anthology of 2022!.