From the University of Chichester news service:
Professor Bill Gray of the University of Chichester’s English Department has recently been busier than usual in his mission of spreading the word about the Victorian fantasy author George MacDonald. MacDonald, who was a friend of Lewis Carroll (and partly responsible for the appearance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) lived for some years in Arundel, where he was minister of the church that is now the Ninevah House Antiques Centre.
In June, Bill gave a well-received lecture on MacDonald in the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture’s series of ‘Public Lectures with distinguished speakers’. The theme of this term’s lectures was ‘Alternative Worlds’, and other speakers included Professors Laurie Maguire and Chris Rowland of Oxford University and Peter Hunt, Emeritus Professor at Cardiff.
Bill’s lecture was well attended by members of the public as well as by Oxford academics, including several professors, who joined in a lively discussion after the lecture.
A chapter on MacDonald (entitled ‘George MacDonald’s Marvellous Medicine’) is also at the heart of Bill’s book Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth: Tales of Pullman, Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald and Hoffmann (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) which is selling well.
Earlier this month it received a very positive review in the Times Higher Education magazine, with the reviewer concluding: “Gray has read his texts with scrupulous care, with a sharp, philosophically oriented intelligence. He has read around his authors thoroughly, he writes with conviction and openness, and sets a high bar for critics who would follow.” www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=406862&c=2
George MacDonald will also figure prominently in the keynote address Bill is giving at the beginning of July as one of the invited speakers at the ‘Changing Childhood’ conference organised by the Youth and Children’s Work department of the diocese of Chichester in collaboration with the University of Chichester and the Children’s Society.
Bill’s paper is entitled ‘The Child in the Midst: Childhood and Salvation Histories from George MacDonald to Philip Pullman’.