Madeleine L'Engle was born on November 29, 1918, in New York. [Editor's note: Ms. L'Engle died on September 6, 2007 in Litchfield, CT] Her dad was a journalist whose lungs had been severely damaged by mustard gas during World War I. His health problems led to Madeleine attending boarding schools for most of her young life. He died while she was away at school.

After college she worked briefly in the theatre. She loved acting and planned to become a playwright as well. Backstage and between rehearsals, she wrote her first novel, The Small Rain. She also met and married actor Hugh Franklin.

Madeleine quit acting in order to write full time, with some immediate success, then a dry spell that would last ten years. She and her family moved into Crosswicks, a large historic farmhouse in rural Goshen, Connecticut. Her husband temporarily left acting to own and run a country store, while Madeleine wrote books and books, only to see them rejected by numerous publishers. This went on for years, and Madeleine finally swore off writing, which lasted about a minute, then she got this Great! Idea! for a book! - which turned out to be A Wrinkle in Time. Farrar, Straus & Giroux eventually published it, after it was rejected by several other publishers - it promptly won the Newbery, and and she was off and running.

Madeleine began to to write and publish like crazy - non-fiction, religious books, children's books, adult novels. Her husband returned to acting, and eventually became a soap opera star - he was Dr. Charles Tyler in All My Children. In September of 1986, Hugh died of cancer, but Madeleine continued to write and publish a wide variety of books, including a book about her life with Hugh, Two Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage.

She has had two hip operations in the last year or so, which has forced her to cut back on her public appearances and even kept her from writing for several months (couldn't sit at computer for any length of time). Still, she always has a book in the works, though she is now in her 80s.

Interesting tidbit: remember the creepy-ass hyper-regimented planet in A Wrinkle in Time where people only existed as ciphers? Madeleine briefly attended an English boarding school where students were called by their numbers. This left her with "an intense passion to be known by name, not number. You take away a name, you take away a person's reality."

Madeleine has lived in the same sprawling Manhattan apartment for forty years. Her recent reading includes John Gribbin, Gary Zukav, Fritjov Kapra, and Freeman Dyson. I don't know who any of those guys are, but I trust her judgement.


"In one of my books I tell of walking down the stairs without touching them. We lose that - we have that as kids. As we grow up in the world of provable facts, they get lost. There's an incredible resistance to the idea that kids can handle concepts - but it's their parents and grandparents who can't handle concepts."

"Every one of Shakespeare's plays starts with an attention getter - otherwise, the audience would throw rotten fruit. I get my own attention first. If it doesn't grab me it's not going to grab the reader."

"Truth transcends facts. If I don't believe it, it isn't true. I'm going to stay on the side of truth no matter how much it hurts. Facts end; stories are infinite. Stories have a richness that goes way beyond fact. My writing knows more than I know. What a writer must do is listen to her book. It might take you where you don't expect to go. That's what happens when you write stories. You listen and you say 'a ha,' and you write it down."

"If I have enough laughter, I go to bed contented with myself and my life."


An Acceptable Time

And Both Were Young

And It Was Good: Reflections on Beginnings

Anytime Prayers

The Arm of the Starfish


Certain Women

A Circle of Quiet

A Cry Like a Bell

Dance in the Desert

Dragons in the Waters

Friends for the Journey: Two Extraordinary Women Celebrate Friendships Made and Sustained Through the Seasons of Life

A Full House: An Austin Family Christmas

Glimpses of Grace: Daily Thoughts and Reflections

The Glorious Impossible

A House Like a Lotus

Irrational Season

The Journey With Jonah

The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi

A Live Coal in the Sea

Love Letters

Many Waters

Meet the Austins

Miracle on 10th Street, & Other Christmas Writings

The Moon by Night

Mothers and Daughters

Mothers and Sons

Penguins and Golden Calves: Icons and Idols

A Prayerbook for Spiritual Friends: Partners in Prayer

A Ring of Endless Light

A Severed Wasp

The Small Rain

Sold into Egypt: Joseph's Journey into Human Being

A Stone for a Pillow / Journeys With Jacob

The Summer of the Great-Grandmother

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

The Things in Heaven and Earth: Exploring the Supernatural

Troubling a Star

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas

Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

A Wind in the Door

A Wrinkle in Time   (1963 Newbery Award)

The Young Unicorns

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