George MacDonald Bicentenary Conference 2024

Together with the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, the George MacDonald Society is excited to announce a conference on MacDonald's 'Prophetic Imagination'. 2024 is the bicentenary of MacDonald's birth (1824-1905), and to celebrate this significant event and promote MacDonald's legacy we are planning an exciting three-day gathering (29-31 May 2024) which will include an evening lecture event with Malcolm Guite, panel discussions, and papers on various aspects of MacDonald's life and works, displays of MacDonald memorabilia and books, and artistic events that creatively respond to MacDonald's works. Attendees will also have the opportunity to see and use the Wade Center's extensive collection of MacDonald resources. This will be the first major conference on MacDonald in North America in over fifteen years--not one to miss!

The evening event with Mallcolm Guite is open to all - no need to register in advance!

Conference Registration

Type of BookingCostNotes
Full Delegate with accommodation$375
Shared accomodation (twin beds). See note below.
Full Student Delegate with accommodation$300
Shared accomodation (twin beds). See note below.
Single Occupany (additional to above)Now fully booked!-
Full Delegate off-site$250
Full Student Delegate off-site$225
Day Visitor Wednesday$70Available from 1st April 2024
Day Visitor Thursday$140Available from 1st April 2024
Day Visitor Friday$70Available from 1st April 2024


  • Accommodation at Wheaton College is in twin shared rooms (some bunks). If you are registering as an individual rather than a couple we will endeavour to be sensitive in allocating shared accommodation. Please let us know if you have a preference for who you would like to share with and we will do our best to accommodate although we cannot guarantee.

  • Check-in is Wednesday, 29th May 2024. Check-out Saturday, 1st June 2024. You will need to make your own arrangements if you wish to arrive before or stay on after this.

  • Registration is between 12 noon and 1:30 pm on the Wednesday.

  • Friday evening, after the main sessions have ended, we are planning to have an informal, relaxed, fun event for those (the majority we hope) sticking around.

  • Bedding is included, but please note there are no facilities for cooking or making hot drinks provided in the onsite accommodation.

  • All meals included (including breakfast if you are staying in accommodation). Please make us aware in advance if you have any special dietary needs.

To assist us in our planning for the conference, when you register please can you also compete this Google form.

Google Form

This will specifically ask:

  1. Do you have any serious food allergies of which we should be aware?
  2. Campus Dining provides options for Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-free diets. Please tick box for Vegetarian/Vegan meals if that is your preference. 
  3. If you are staying in College accommodation and intend to share your room with a specific person, please indicate that here (request must be made from both registrants).
  4. Do you have any questions, special needs, and is there anything else you think we should know?

Please complete one form for each person attending.

For those who prefer to make their own accommodation arrangements one option is the Holiday Inn in Wheaton. Wheaton College have negotiated a discount and we can let you have details of this on request. Please note, however, that this is some distance from the college and would probably require your own transport.

Keynote Speakers

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite (PhD, Durham) is the President of the George MacDonald Society. Life Fellow and former Chaplain at Girton College, Cambridge, he teaches and lectures internationally on theology, literature, and the arts – with MacDonald, Coleridge, and the Inklings as frequent features. Also a musician and a poet, Malcolm has published multiple anthologies, and many of his poems have been set to song. His current work – an Arthurian epic, Merlin’s Isle: The Grail Sequence – found some of its inspiration in Phantastes. Malcolm is especially interested in the imagination as a truth-bearing faculty, as evidenced in his most recent collection of short essays, Sounding Heaven and Earth (2023). Other of his publications include Faith, Hope and Poetry, Mariner: A Voyage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lifting the Veil: Imagination & the Kingdom of God.

Crystal Downing

Crystal Downing

Crystal Downing (PhD, California) is Co-Director of the Marion E. Wade Center and co-holder of the ‘Chair in Christian Thought’ at Wheaton, along with her husband David. (The Wade Center, our conference co-host, exists to promote the relevance of seven specific authors to cultural engagements of intellect, imagination, and faith: MacDonald, Lewis, Tolkien, Sayers, Chesterton, Barfield, and Williams.) With a specialty in Victorian Literature from UCSB and previously the ‘Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies’ at Messiah College, Crystal has published two award-winning books on Dorothy Sayers, four books on cultural theory that are required reading in colleges and seminaries around the world, and over a hundred essays (eight of which appear in critical editions of canonical British texts). Together she and David host The Wade Center Podcast. Her sixth book, on film, is forthcoming.

Trevor Hart

Trevor Hart

The Revd Canon Professor Trevor Hart is Rector of Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church, St Andrews and Canon Theologian of St Ninian's Cathedral, Perth. He was formerly Professor of Divinity and founding Director of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts in the University of St Andrews. Trevor's interest in George MacDonald dates back to an accidental discovery in the mid-1980s (story forthcoming!). In the years since he has supervised many dissertations on and relating to MacDonald -- beginning at his alma mater of Aberdeen in the early 1990’s -- in addition to contributing his own lectures and publications. Trevor continues to lecture internationally and publishes widely on the importance of imagination for Christian faith, ministry, and theology. His most recent publication is Confessing and Believing: The Apostles' Creed as Script for the Christian Life (Fortress, 2022).

Daniel Gabelman

Daniel Gabelman

Daniel Gabelman (PhD, St Andrews) is Head of English at King's Ely in Cambridge. He is the author of George MacDonald: Divine Carelessness and Fairytale Levity (Baylor UP; Mythopoeic Award Finalist) and the academic representative of the George MacDonald Society. He is currently co-editing two volumes of essays on MacDonald: one will be available for the first time at the Wheaton conference (Unsaying the Commonplace: George MacDonald and the Critique of Convention, co-edited with Amanda Vernon, Winged Lion Press) while the other (The Cambridge Companion to George MacDonald, co-edited with John Patrick Pazdziora) will help bring MacDonald into the mainstream of academic teaching and discourse. As a defender of light and playful things, he is also co-editing a new series with Cambridge UP on 'Doodles and Doodling' and has a forthcoming book in this series entitled Literary Doodling (2024).

Rebecca Reynolds

Rebecca Reynolds

Rebecca K. Reynolds (Tennessee, USA) is a classical educator of high school rhetoric, philosophy, and literature, whose MA was in Storytelling/Oral Literature. She is currently nearing the completion of a text-faithful prose rendering of Spenser’s entire epic The Faerie Queen (illustrated by Inklings artist Justin Gerard). A poet, essayist, and the author of Courage Dear Heart: Letters for a Weary World, Rebecca has also narrated over fifty classic text audiobooks -- including Phantastes, Lilith, and At The Back of the North Wind. As lyricist for musicians such as Ron Block of Alison Krauss and Union Station, and regular contributor for Rabbit Room and Story Warren, Rebecca has the opportunity to play with words and culture for a broad audience. She is a featured speaker for multiple Faith & Arts conferences and podcasts, both in the US and the UK.

John Patrick Pazdziora

John Pazdziora

John Patrick Pazdziora (Ph.D., St Andrews) is project assistant professor at the Center for Global Education at The University of Tokyo. He researches Scottish literature in the long nineteenth century and children’s cultures, with emphasis on the interplay between literature and theology. His recent projects include a JSPS KAKENHI grant to examine how portrayals of disability in Victorian children’s literature function as a form of subversive theological discourse. John is the author of Haunted Childhoods in George MacDonald (Brill, 2020) and editor of Christianity in Scottish Literature (Scottish Literature International, 2023). Together with Joshua Richards, he is currently preparing a new critical edition of George MacDonald’s fairy tales for Oxford World’s Classics. He is also co-editing The Cambridge Companion to George MacDonald with Daniel Gabelman.

photo credit: Thomas Brauer

Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson

Conference "Gaitherer"

Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson

Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson (PhD, St Andrews) is a MacDonald scholar who also stewards a farm and ecology site in the Ottawa Valley, Canada. She writes and lectures internationally on MacDonald, the 19th century, Inklings, and Faith & the Arts. Co-editor of Informing the Inklings (Mythopoeic Award finalist), she has assisted numerous ‘MacDonald & Inklings’ translation projects, and written introductions to such works as the new graphic novel of The Golden Key and the illustrated Lilith. Kirstin directs the ‘Theology, Ecology, & the Arts’ programmes of Windstone Linlathen, is on the Advisory Boards of journals VII and NorthWind, the Board of the C.S. Lewis & Kindreds Society of Eastern & Central Europe, and is co-chair of the George MacDonald Society.

More speakers and participants to come!

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