Edmund Spenser (1552-1599), most famous for The Faerie Queene (1590; 1596), is a key influence on MacDonald generally and on Phantastes in particular. John Docherty writes that “MacDonald bases his upon the figure Phantastes living the forebrain of the ‘House of Alma' (the human body) in book 2 of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene” (“Sources of Phantastes,” North Wind: A Journal of George MacDonald Studies, vol. 25, 2005, pages 16-28).
Spenser, Edmund, "Phantastes Chapter 20: The Faerie Queene" (1590). German Romantic and Other Influences. 22.