George MacDonald was a master story teller, and a great fabulist. His fairy tales and fantasy books had a great influence on many writers who came after him, including J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton, Madeliene L'Engle, and E. Nesbit. Perhaps none, though, was so profoundly influenced as C. S. Lewis, who often referred to MacDonald as his "master." MacDonald's influence can be seen throughout Lewis's writings, and the old Scottish preacher even serves as his guide on his journey into paradise in The Great Divorce, just a Beatrice served as Dante's.
MacDonald lived in a time when English literature was flourishing, and he rubbed shoulders with numerous famous literary men. He was known to be friends with Mark Twain (who didn't initially like him, though that apparently changed over time), John Ruskin, Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, Alfred Tennyson, Anthony Trollope, and numerous other famous writers of his day. Lewis Carroll counted him a mentor.
Besides the fantasy novels for which he is best known, MacDonald penned a huge body of realist fiction. In his lifetime, his novels and short stories were as famous as those of any of his contemporaries. After his death, though, tastes in English literature moved away from the sort of "preachiness" that is often found embedded in his stories. Many Christian readers, though, have found the profound theology interwoven into the tales to be one of the main appeals of MacDonald's fiction