2018-11-28 15:29:57 UTC
The 100th Anniversary of Madeleine L'Engle's Birth Finds Her Legacy Thriving
By Krystyna Poray Goddu
Feb 06, 2018
The year 2018 would have marked the late award-winning author Madeleine L’Engle’s 100th birthday. The occasion is being celebrated by two key events: the publication of a middle-grade biography, written by her granddaughters, and a long-awaited film of her 1963 Newbery winner, A Wrinkle in Time.
L’Engle loved birthdays. Celebrating her own in late November was always a highlight. A few years ago, reflecting on the approach of this important anniversary, her granddaughters Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy started thinking about what they could do as a meaningful tribute to the acclaimed author. Both women had been exceptionally close to their grandmother.
“We didn’t want to throw a party or have to organize and host a public event,” said Voiklis. For Roy, a writer and teacher of writing to young people, writing L’Engle’s biography had been in the back of her mind for several years. “The idea lay dormant for a long time,” she said. “I wanted to let it rise organically.”
Voiklis, who is L’Engle’s literary executor, initially found the prospect daunting...
Madeleine L'Engle's midcentury version of 'she persisted'
By Meg Waite Clayton Nov 25, 2018 | 3:15 AM
...On a family camping trip to the Painted Desert, she had an idea for a new novel, inspired by something Albert Einstein wrote about the possibility that space and time might warp and wrinkle. When she finished the book, she tried it out on her then-editor, who rejected it. It made the rounds of publishers for two years, garnering “forty-odd rejections”— each one “a wound.”
L’Engle might have lost confidence in it, but instead she seized an opportunity through a friend to put it into the hands of John Farrar at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Two weeks later her young son appeared at her bedside, saying her agent was on the phone and had told him to wake her.
“A Wrinkle in Time” was published in 1962. It won the 1963 Newberry Medal, America’s top annual award for children’s literature, and went on to become the second most popular children’s book of all time, wedged between “Charlotte’s Web” at No. 1 and “Harry Potter” at No. 3.
L'Engle started writing at age 5 with a story about a little “gurl.” That her most famous book would come to her from reading something Einstein had written is remarkable, given that L’Engle’s grades in science and math were so poor she might not have graduated from high school with her class...
...One of the last publishers to reject it suggested the book should be cut by half. L’Engle was willing to rewrite but, she wrote, “I won’t destroy my book for money for some editor who completely misses the point.”
Even after “Wrinkle” was accepted, the men at Farrar didn’t expect much. One of their outside readers wrote about it, “I think this is the worst book I have ever read.” It was science fiction with a female protagonist when, as L’Engle herself said, “That just wasn’t done.” Her editor, Hal Vursell, in his letter seeking blurb quotes for it, said it would be a hard sell. Were young readers up to the dystopian setting and its complicated concepts?
The answer was a resounding yes. Young readers immediately took to the story of Meg Murry’s journey to find her father — transcending time, space and even the limitations of her own mind — in the company of her brother Charles Wallace, a boy named Calvin, and three supernatural old ladies named (without periods, to make them more otherworldly) Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which...
Author Madeleine L’Engle opened her best-loved fantasy with a famously bad line
Troy Lennon, History editor, The Daily Telegraph November 28, 2018 8:00am
One of the worst lines in literature is widely regarded to be “It was a dark and stormy night”, which first appeared in Washington Irving’s 1809 work A History of New York. It became the catchphrase for awful writing and one which authors are warned to avoid.
But American author Madeleine L’Engle, born a century ago today, went the other way, using the line to open her novel A Wrinkle In Time. The story of a young girl called Meg who travels through space and time with the help of three mystic women, Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Which and Mrs Who, to find her missing scientist father, is one of the most widely loved works of science-fiction and fantasy.
The cliched opening line may have been one reason the story was rejected by 26 publishers before it was finally printed in 1962. But L’Engle based the book’s stubborn, but intelligent main character on herself, and being as determined as Meg, resisted attempts to change her prose.
It is perhaps why her book resonates with so many women. In Meg, L’Engle created a strong female role model who wins out with both intellect and emotional strength. Her books were inspired by her deep faith, but also a love of science...
Scroll more than halfway down for a photo:
"Sarah Arthur, author of A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle, Author of A Wrinkle in Time (Zondervan, Aug.), spoke at both the Art of Writing and the Christy Awards in honor the 100th anniversary of Madeline L’Engle’s birth this year."
(No video, unfortunately - not there, anyway.)
"Madeleine L’Engle’s centenary received a fitting commemoration in New York City last month when the Cathedral of St. John the Divine held a public tribute, 'Believing Takes Practice: Celebrating 100 Years of Madeleine L’Engle.' "
And, at the bottom, some links:
New biography of Madeleine L’Engle by her granddaughters is a “journey of becoming”
Leonard S. Marcus on Madeleine L’Engle, the “fearless experimenter” of children’s literature
Watch: A Wrinkle in Time was only the beginning
Acquiring literary estate, Smith College celebrates Madeleine L’Engle in her centenary year
From the Leonard Marcus interview:
Library of America: Along the same lines, our volume The Wrinkle in Time Quartet includes four passages deleted from the original book. What does the deleted material add to our understanding of L’Engle’s artistic intentions?
Marcus: From three of the four deleted passages, we learn more about Camazotz, the dystopic planet where the population lives in the thrall of the demonic controlling intelligence known as IT. We meet one character who was eliminated altogether from the published book: a blind zombie-like guide who leads Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and Calvin on a tour of Central Central Intelligence headquarters. The fourth unpublished passage concerns Aunt Beast. L’Engle later reworked this material for the sequel A Wind in the Door. In a sense, it is the bridge between the first two books of the Wrinkle in Time Quartet.