Diary of an Old Soul: Annotated Edition, By George MacDonald
Diary of an Old Soul
  • Length: 296 pages
  • Dimensions: 4.25 × 7 in
  • Published: June 25, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0768
  • ISBN: 9781514007686

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"Be thou the well by which I lie and rest;
Be thou my tree of life, my garden ground;
Be thou my home, my fire, my chamber blest,
My book of wisdom, loved of all the best;
Oh, be my friend, each day still newer found,
As the eternal days and nights go round!
Nay, nay—thou art my God, in whom all loves are bound!"

In 1880, the prolific author George MacDonald self-published a long poem in book form as a gift for his friends. He called it, in full, A Book of Strife in the Form of the Diary of an Old Soul. It contained a new seven-line stanza for each day of the calendar year, written as prayers expressing MacDonald's longings, struggles, and joys in everyday life.

The Diary was originally printed with a blank page facing every page of poetry so that readers could supplement MacDonald's diary with their own. This feature in particular, along with the spiritual wisdom and literary artistry of the text itself, was beloved by C. S. Lewis, who gave a copy of the book to his future wife, Joy Davidman, as a Christmas gift in 1952.

Now in this deluxe edition, MacDonald's classic devotional resource is again available with the blank pages he envisioned alongside the complete text. With a new introduction and explanatory notes by historian Timothy Larsen, the beloved writer's prayers find new life for enthusiasts and first-time readers alike.

  • Complete text of MacDonald's classic work—one poem for each day of the year
  • Thoughtful layout with a blank page for journaling opposite each poem
  • Introduction and annotations by historian Timothy Larsen
  • Deluxe features including cloth binding and bookmark ribbon

"This beautifully edited and annotated edition of George MacDonald's Diary of an Old Soul is not only a gift to MacDonald scholars and enthusiasts but also a gift to the world and to the church. Diary of an Old Soul can sit on your bedside reading table as an old friend and companion, something to dip in and out of, to look up the poem for the particular day you take up the book: you will always be challenged, inspired, and ultimately nourished. But Larsen shows that this book offers so much more. It is an inner journal of the hard road of sanctification, the journey all mystics take through purgation, to illumination, and finally to blissful union with the God who loves us and is always enabling our love in return. For those who don't yet know the Diary, this book is the perfect introduction and companion for your journey with MacDonald. For those who do, be prepared to look at an old friend with new eyes and new depths of appreciation."

Malcolm Guite, president of the George MacDonald Society

"Through verses that aim to purge readers' selfishness, illuminate life's struggles through the light of Christ, and unite the soul to the sometimes-puzzling will of God, George MacDonald's daily poems in Diary of an Old Soul cultivate a posture of surrender. In the introduction to this annotated IVP edition, Timothy Larsen is a masterful teacher and storyteller, orienting readers to both poetry and the devotional practices of Victorians. Through the text, Larsen's helpful footnotes expand on MacDonald's biography, biblical allusions, and key aspects of Victorian culture. For those new to MacDonald's work or long acquainted with his writings, this edition is edifying and educational, as all good reading should be!"

Jessica Ann Hughes, associate professor of English at George Fox University and author of Jesus in the Victorian Novel

"Diary of an Old Soul is a gift to Christians seeking solace, enlightenment, and a closer walk with God. George MacDonald's devotional poetry brims with biblical wisdom and profound insight, and the blank pages in this reprinting open up space for readers to join him in spiritual reflection. This edition helps me look forward to spending more time with MacDonald."

Noah Toly, provost of Calvin University

"George MacDonald writes as a human being who hungers and thirsts for God. The love of God is not a luxury but a primal need. These exquisite poems are an ideal companion for those seeking to come more fully alive to the ache, ecstasy, and urgency of this most basic of longings."

Han-luen Kantzer Komline, professor of church history and theology at Western Theological Seminary and author of Augustine on the Will

"I had not read of Diary of an Old Soul prior to Timothy Larsen's introduction in this text. With Larsen's guidance, I read and met a soul on fire for God. Readers beware. As Larsen notes, 'It can be an unsettling thing to encounter someone whose deepest desire really is to be in complete communion with God.' This is not an easy book; its original title included the words 'A Book of Strife.' Like the sayings of the desert fathers, the poems in this book are meant to be slowly and repeatedly reflected on. Read, reflect, and receive medicine for your soul."

Hank Voss, associate professor of ministry at Taylor University



1 January
2 February
3 March
4 April
5 May
6 June
7 July
8 August
9 September
10 October
11 November
12 December


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George MacDonald (1824–1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and preacher. He published some fifty volumes of novels, poetry, short stories, fantasy, sermons, and essays.