The Princess and the Goblin is a children's fantasy novel by George MacDonald. It was published in 1872 by Strahan & Co.
Anne Thaxter Eaton writes in A Critical History of Children's Literature that The Princess and the Goblin and its sequel “quietly suggest in every incident ideas of courage and honor." Jeffrey Holdaway, in the New Zealand Art Monthly, said that both books start out as “normal fairytales but slowly become stranger”, and that they contain layers of symbolism similar to that of Lewis Carroll’s work.
Eight-year-old Princess Irene lives a lonely life in a castle in a wild, desolate, mountainous kingdom, with only her nursemaid "Lootie" for company. Her father the king is normally absent, and her mother is dead. Unknown to her, the nearby mines are inhabited by a race of goblins, long banished from the kingdom and now anxious to take revenge on their human neighbors. One rainy day, the princess explores the castle and discovers a beautiful, mysterious lady, who identifies herself as Irene's namesake and great-great-grandmother. The next day, Princess Irene persuades her nursemaid to take her outside. After dark they are chased by goblins and rescued by the young miner 'Curdie', whom Irene befriends. At work with the rest of the miners, Curdie overhears the goblins talking, and their conversation reveals to Curdie the secret weakness of goblin anatomy: they have very soft, vulnerable feet. Curdie sneaks into the Great Hall of the goblin palace to eavesdrop on their general meeting, and hears that the goblins intend to flood the mine if a certain other part of their plan should fail. He later conveys this news to his father. In the palace, Princess Irene injures her hand, which her great-great-grandmother heals. A week later Irene is about to see her great-great-grandmother again, but is frightened by a long-legged cat and escapes up the mountain; whereupon the light from her great-great-grandmother's tower leads her home, where her great-great-grandmother gives Irene a ring attached to a thread invisible except to herself, which thereafter connects her constantly to home.