Ronald MacDonald: In the Near Loss of Everything

Not the hamburger clown, but the son of George MacDonald, literary great and scion of the Inkling fraternity. Zossima Press yesterday released In the Near Loss of Everything, a biography of this Ronald MacDonald by Dale Wayne Slusser that focuses on Ronald’s time in America and the book is a ‘wow.’ Please read these blurbs from MacDonald scholars and the Zossima Press news release for why you, the Harry Potter serious reader and lover of imaginative fiction, will want to read In the Near Loss of Everything.

“Readers of George MacDonald’s writings and life will especially enjoy Dale Wayne Slusser’s informative and untold story of MacDonald’s son, Ronald, during his struggling life in America. In the Near Loss of Everything reveals that Ronald MacDonald – headmaster, novelist, fairytale writer, and playwright – inherited more than his father’s literary talent; like his father, he also personified the role of Greatheart throughout his life.”

Glenn Edward Sadler, editor of An Expression of Character: The Letters of George MacDonald

“Dale Wayne Slusser’s careful research of primary documents is artfully presented in this absorbing account of the life of George MacDonald’s son, Ronald. His father’s influence is clearly evident in Ronald’s comments about life, death, and the Christian life. In the Near Loss of Everything also provides readers with a unique glimpse into the lives of Ronald’s parents and siblings.”

David L. Neuhouser, Scholar in Residence, Taylor University Center for the Study of C. S. Lewis and Friends

“Dale Slusser’s book would be a special treat for George MacDonald enthusiasts, if only for its appendices. In them we get fascinating, out of print samples of Ronald MacDonald’s own writing: parts of a fairy tale, and Ronald’s remembrances of his father and comments on his father’s work. But Slusser does much more. In this account of Ronald’s time in America, and the troubles he shared there with his wife and sister, Slusser adds an important missing piece to our knowledge of the MacDonald family and its stuggles. And in telling the story of a man who did not give up, Slusser allows Ronald to do what his father has so often done: inspire and encourage. Well researched and well worth the having.”

Jeff McInnis, author of Shadows and Chivalry: C.S. Lewis & George MacDonald on Suffering, Evil, and Goodness.

Press Release — Biography of 19th Century Headmaster Holds Personal Meaning for the Author

Asheville, NC – September 29, 2009. Dale Wayne Slusser’s book In the Near Loss of Everything tells the late nineteenth-century story of Ronald MacDonald, the most famous headmaster of Ravenscroft High School, a boarding school for boys in Asheville, NC. Ronald was the son of the famous British writer, George MacDonald, author of such books as The Princess and the Goblin and At the Back of the North Wind.

Slusser’s book focuses on the marriage of Ronald, whose wife died within a year of his appointment at Ravenscroft, leaving him to care for their 4 month-old daughter. How Ronald coped with the loss of his beloved spouse while completing his five-year contract as headmaster, and how his famous family in England reached out to him in his grief, is a testimony to faith and love.

In writing this book, the author came full circle with his own past. After the death of his father, Dale Slusser spent most of his childhood (1966-1977) being raised at Milton Hershey School, a boy’s boarding school in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Coincidentally, before MacDonald became the headmaster in Asheville, he taught at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania – just 60 miles east of Hershey. The chapter about MacDonald’s time in Pennsylvania includes photographs and drawings by MacDonald’s wife, Louise, an artist who studied with the famous British art critic John Ruskin.

After completing his term at Ravenscroft, Ronald went on to be a successful author and playwright. Exactly 100 years ago, in 1909, he wrote a book where the main character’s spouse died. In the deathbed scene of the novel, the thoughts of that character seem to reflect his Ronald’s own memories in these words from which the title of Slusser’s book is taken: “In the near loss of everything but our spiritual relation we may . . . touch each other with an intimacy never yet attained – reaching, for a moment before the last curtain falls between, almost to the secret of that eternal relation which underlies the mystery of man and woman.”

Accolades for the book include George MacDonald scholar Jeff McInnis, author of Shadows and Chivalry: C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald on Suffering, Evil, and Goodness, who wrote: “In telling the story of a man who did not give up, Slusser allows Ronald to do what his father has so often done: inspire and encourage. Well researched and well worth the having.” The story is complemented by over 30 black and white photos and drawings, including never before published drawings by MacDonald’s wife.

Those unfamiliar with Ronald’s more famous father will benefit from a reprint of his essay “George MacDonald: A Personal Note” first published in 1911. This essay gives a personal and critical overview of his father’s life and writings, one of the finest summaries and evaluations ever written. Also included is an excerpt from Ronald’s fable about life The Laughing Elf, published in 1922, which is evidence of Ronald’s belief of the necessity of both joy and sorrow for a fulfilled life.

Dale Slusser’s book is published by Zossima Press. The author resides with his wife in Asheville, NC and is available for interviews. In the Near Loss of Everything is available at or Barnes &

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