The five year span between 1875 and 1880 surely represents, if not MacDonald’s most significant period of work (for he began Malcolm and perhaps some of these other titles earlier), certainly his most prodigious half-decade of published output. Had he never written any other books but these, his mark would nevertheless have been felt upon posterity.
But when one considers that Malcolm, Marquis, Wingfold, St. George, Gibbie, Faber, were all released in a span of five years, and more besides, it is hard to fathom how he could have produced so much at such a high level. Three of this period’s novels stand at the very apex of the MacDonald bibliography-Malcolm, Sir Gibbie, and Thomas Wingfold, the first two set in Scotland though the author had not lived in his homeland for years.
To write Malcolm, MacDonald returned to the small seaside resort of Cullen on Scotland’s north coast, a town he had loved as a boy. The text of the intricate and mysterious tale is more true to place than any of MacDonald’s books. In Malcolm, one meets any number of MacDonald’s most memorable characters, and many consider it MacDonald’s best novel.
All along MacDonald apparently realized that Malcolm’s story would span two books, and Malcolm ends with the words: “The story of Malcolm’s plans, and what came of them, requires another book.”
[Original Print: 1875, Henry S. King]