The Lost Princess

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The Lost Princess
AuthorGeorge MacDonald
Original titleThe Wise Woman: A Parable
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreChildren's Fantasy novel
PublisherStrahan & Co
Publication date
Media typePrint

The Lost Princess: A Double Story, first published in 1875 as The Wise Woman: A Parable, is a fairy tale novel by George MacDonald.

The story describes how a woman of mysterious powers pays visits to two very different young girls: one a princess, the other a shepherd’s daughter. It has been regarded as ahead of its time in its approach to parenting.[1]


Born on the same day, Princess Rosamond, born in the lap of luxury, and Agnes, the daughter of common shepherds, are both equally spoiled by their parents. Both girls soon grow into self-centered tyrants who make their parents miserable. A mysterious Wise Woman comes to the royal palace and steals Rosamond, bringing her to her secret cottage deep in the forest, where Rosamond, for the first time in her life, is required to work in order to eat. Gradually Rosamond learns to obey the Wise Woman, albeit grudgingly. Through a combination of magic, discipline, and kindness, Rosamond comes to feel ashamed of her naughty behavior. One day when the Wise Woman leaves her alone, Rosamond discovers a magical hidden portrait gallery. Stepping through one of the paintings, she finds herself on a hillside in the country near Agnes's home.

Meanwhile the Wise Woman steals Agnes from the shepherd's croft. Agnes is far more intractable than Rosamond: while outwardly obedient and less greedy than Rosamond, she is morally reprehensible, being thoroughly conceited and self-centered. Agnes, too, discovers the portrait gallery, where she is intrigued by an image of the royal palace. She steps through the painting and makes her way to the palace, where the King and Queen are still seeking their lost princess. The King and Queen put her to work in the kitchens. Agnes attempts to curry favor by hinting that she knows where the lost princess is. Eventually word of this reaches the King and Queen, who call to have Agnes's parents brought to the palace and put to torture until they reveal what has become of Rosamond.

Agnes's parents rescue Rosamond and keep her in place of their lost daughter. At first Rosamond genuinely attempts to be good, but she slowly slips back into her old bad habits until she is asked to leave. Rosamond decides to make her way back to the palace to reunite with her parents, but becomes lost in the woods and is rescued by the Wise Woman. Rosamond now truly wishes to be a better person and asks for the Wise Woman's help. The Wise Woman subjects Rosamond to a series of magical trials, all of which she fails; however, the Wise Woman is encouraged to see that the princess tries all the harder with every new attempt. Finally the Wise Woman allows her to go home through the magical painting.

Rosamond finds her way to the palace, where the shepherd, his wife, and Agnes now stand accused of stealing the lost princess. Rosamond rushes to speak in their defense, but she is so altered that her parents refuse to believe she is their daughter. The Wise Woman appears and accuses the King and Queen of being so superficial that they cannot recognize goodness when it is standing before them. She curses them to be blind until they change their ways. Rosamond volunteers to care for her parents as the Wise Woman cared for her until they are cured.

The Wise Woman returns Agnes to her parents. Because Agnes's parents made her what she is, she is now their punishment. The shepherd begs to be taken to the Wise Woman's house to learn how to be a better person and parent, and the Wise Woman agrees to take him away. Before leaving with the shepherd, the Wise Woman promises Rosamond that she will always be near if Rosamond needs her.

Film Adaptations[edit]

In 2011, The Lost Princess was adapted into a full-length feature film by an independent filmmaker.[2]


  1. ^ Lindskoog, Kathryn Anne; Plan for the Curing: George MacDonald and modern child-training methods, in Surprised by C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald & Dante, p82-88; Mercer University Press 2001 ISBN 978-0-86554-728-5
  2. ^ "The Lost Princess". 15 May 2012 – via

External links[edit]