The Sacrifice

Georgiana MacDonald

General Description

Date: 1856
Genre: Short story

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: PC Fleming


At fifteen, Georgiana MacDonald (later Burne-Jones) (1840-1920) was, by several years, the youngest contributor to The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine. She met Morris, Burne-Jones, and the rest of the set through her brother Henry, who knew them at Oxford. Georgiana and Burne-Jones were engaged in June, 1856, and married in 1860. Georgiana’s biography of her husband is one of the most important sources for information about the Magazine.

This story, Georgiana’s first contribution, should be read at least in part biographically. In 1856 Burne-Jones left Oxford to become a painter, moving to an apartment nearby the MacDonalds (Memorials 132). Henry Radcliffe, the story’s protagonist, follows a similar path. The relationship in this story between Mary Stanfield and the consumptive Richard Merton could also be read as a depiction of Burne-Jones’s courtship of Georgiana.

This story, in particular the final paragraphs depicting Radcliffe’s painting, may owe some debt to Rossetti’s Hand and Soul. Morris and Burne-Jones knew this story from The Germ, which they had read the year before, and it is likely Georgiana read the story as well.

Printing History

First printed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine , May, 1856.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1