The Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature at Rhode Island College




- Madeline L'Engle -

Biographical Information

Madeleine L’Engle was born in New York City on November 29, 1918. She lived there for twelve more years. Her father, Charles Wadsworth Camp, was a writer. Her mother, Madeleine Hall Barnett Camp, was a concert pianist. Her house was filled with artists who were family friends. There are numerous possible influences for her career as a successful novelist, poet, essayist, and play write. Her writing delights children, young adults, and adults alike.

As a young woman, her life was filled with travels to Europe which also included Swiss boarding school. She continued her academics and graduated from Smith College in 1941. Her years after graduation included living with friends in New York where she wrote and looked for acting jobs. It was during this time that her first book, The Small Rain, was published. Then she met her future husband actor Hugh Franklin. They both retired from the theater to move to the country.

Despite helping to build up and manage a general store, run a large farmhouse, and raising three small children, L’Engle still found time to write. Even though she was not able to sell her writing during this time, she continued to write as a part of living, a source of happiness.

After conquering the local economy - successfully operating their store, they wanted to get back to the city and theater. So they moved back to New York City. Hugh Franklin went on to star on the soap opera All My Children. He died in the fall of 1986 after a long illness.

Madeleine L’Engle is currently writer-in-residence and librarian at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. She now enjoys spending time with her three children and grandchildren. She divides her time between New York City and her country home in Connecticut.


The Small Rain: A Novel, Vanguard (1945), published as Prelude, (1968), new edition under original title with Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1984)
Ilsa, Vanguard (1946)
And Both Were Young, Lothrop (1949), Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. (1983)
Camilla Dickinson, Simon & Schuster (1951); published as Camilla, Crowell (1965); Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.(1982)
A Winter’s Love, Lippincott (1957)
Meet The Austins, Dell Publishing (1960)
A Wrinkle in Time, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1963, 1973, 1976)
The Moon by Night, Dell Publishing (1963, 1981)
The Arm of the Starfish, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1965, 1980)
The Love Letters, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1966)
The Journey with Jonah, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1967)
The Young Unicorns, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1968)
Lines Scribbled on an Envelope, and Other Poems, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1969)
Dance in the Desert, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc., Illustrations Copyright 1969 by Symeon Shimin, (1969, 1988, 1994)
Intergalactic P. S. 3, Children’s Books (1970)
The Other Side of the Sun, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1st ed. ~1971)
A Circle of Quiet, Harper & Row (1972)
Everyday Prayers, illustrations by Lucille Butel, Morehouse, (!974)
Prayers for Sunday, illustrations by Lizzie Napoli, Morehouse (1974)
A Wind in the Door, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1973 ~ 20th printing 1995)
The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, Harper & Row (1974)
Dragons in the Waters, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1976)
Spirit and Light: Essays in Historical Theology, Editor with William B. Green, Seabury (1976)
The Weather of the Heart: Poems, H. Shaw Publishers (1978)
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1978, 1981)
The Irrational Season, Seabury Press/Harper & Row (1977)
Ladder of Angels: Scenes from the Bible Illustrated by Children of the World, Seabury Press (1979)
A Ring of Endless Light, Dell Publishing Co., Inc.(1980 by Crosswicks, Ltd)
Walking of Water: Reflections of Faith & Art, H. Shaw Publishers (1980)
The Anti-Muffins, illustration by Gloria Ortiz, Pilgrim (1981)
The Sphinx at Dawn: Two Stories, illustrations by Vivian Berger, Harper (1982)
A Severed Wasp, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1982)
And It Was Good, Reflections on Beginnings, H. Shaw Publishers (1983)
A House Like A Lotus
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. (1984)
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1985)
Dare to Be Creative, Library of Congress (1984)
The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas (An Austin Family Story), illustrations 1988 by Carl Cassier, Dell Publishing (Copyright 1984, Crosswicks Ltd.)
Trailing Clouds of Glory: Spiritual Values in Childrens Books, With Avery Brooke, Westminister(1985)
A Stone for a Pillow: Journeys with Jacob, H. Shaw Publishers (1986)
Many Waters, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1986)
Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.(1988)
Sold into Egypt: Joseph’s Journey into Human Being, H. Shaw Publishers (1989)
An Acceptable Time, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1989)
Certain Women , Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1992)
Troubling A Star, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1994)
A Live Coal in the Sea, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. (1996)


And Both Were Young was named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year, New York Times, 1949.
Meet The Austins ~ American Library Association Notable Book, 1960.
A Wrinkle in Time earned a Newbery Medal from the American Library Association, 1963; Hans Christian Anderson Award runner-up, 1964; Sequoya Childrenís Book Award from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, 1965; and Lewis Shelf Award, 1965.
The Arm of the Starfish ~ Horn Book honor list; Junior Literary Guild selection, 1965.
The Young Unicorns - Book Worldís Spring Book Festival Honor Book and one of School Library Journalís Best Books of the Year, 1968.
The Moon by Night - Austrian State Literary Prize, 1969.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet ~ University of Southern Mississippi Silver Medallion, 1978, for ìan outstanding contribution to the field of childrenís literatureî; American Book Award for paperback fiction, 1980.
A Ring of Endless Light ~ Newbery Honor Book, 1981; Books for the Teen Ager selection, New York Public Library, 1981; American Library Association Notable Book, 1981.
Camilla ~ Books for the Teen Ager selection, New York Public Library, 1982.
A House Like a Lotus was exhibited at the Bologna International Childrenís Book Fair, 1985.
Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association, 1984.
Adolescent Literature Assembly Award for Outstanding Contribution to Adolescent Literature from the National Council of Teachers of English, 1986.

Quotes from Reviews

A Wrinkle in Time
"I cannot forget the personalities of the children: precocious little Charles Wallace; Meg, whose faults alone-anger, impatience, stubbornness-could save her; the three strange beings who emerge at times as eccentric but very kind old ladies. Miss LíEngle has referred to her book as a parable; but it is first of all an exciting adventure story, with something important added-the overtones that will make it worth reading many times and will give new meanings with each new reading." Ruth Hill Viguers, in her Margin for Surprise: About Books, Children, and Librarians (Little, Brown, 1964)
"The book sparkles with the authorís vitality and imagination and proceeds at a fast pace with recognizable character types. . . . There is no question but that the book is good entertainment and that the writer carries the story along with a great deal of verve; there is some question about the depth of its quality." Carolyn Horovitz, in Newbery and Caldecott Medal Books: 1956-1965, edited by Lee Kingman (Horn Book, 1965)
". . .a fantasy which uses many of the devices of science fiction, but which does not rely on its machinery to produce story. Space and time fantasy can have fully developed character, and yet retain the ingenuity we find in science fiction. Even though the characters have special mental powers, they do not lose their humanness." Rebecca J. Lukens, in her A Critical Handbook of Childrenís Literature, Scott, Foresman, 1976

The Arm of the Starfish
"Madeleine LíEngle has created a ...novel demanding a place on all young adult bookshelves....smooth running plot which immerses one to its end in story alone, and only then delivers in brilliant flashes a shower of meaning and application. Some handlings of situation are overdrawn, being perhaps too intense pockets of the authorís perceptive sensitivity. Usually the tone is even and natural ....." Carolyn M. Light, in Best Sellers (University of Scranton, 1965)

Meet The Austins
"....deserves notice because it takes one small step towards filling the yawning spiritual gap in novels for the young. explores, from the secure anchorage of a happy American family, the meaning of life and death." Elaine Moss, in The Spectator, June 3, 1966.
"...might perhaps be sub-titled 'The Family That Never Was.' Nevertheless, there is a refreshingly wholesome feeling about this New England doctorís family who weather a report of sudden death....disruption caused by a spoilt orphan..." Elaine Moss, The Junior Bookshelf, 1966.

The Young Unicorns
"The bizarre story of The Young Unicorns turns on a power-mad brain surgeon's discovery of the stunning potential in a micro-laser to control men's minds. What's most fun here is the author's outrageous imagination coupled with her ability to characterize so many people adequately; the sheer number, however, will occasionally leave readers bewildered. . . . The supernumeraries and suspense-gorged plot are so integrated as to add up to a carnival show for young readers in a giddy, mind-stretching book." Jean C. Thomson, in School Library Journal, March 1968.
"A very unusual novel, both frighteningly realistic and highly imaginative. . . .deals with profound questions of philosophy and psychology." Geraldine E. LaRocque, in English Journal, February, 1969.

A Wind in the Door
"Adult admirers ...will appreciate her most virtuoso performance in fantasy to date, but I have a lingering doubt if any but the more virtuoso young readers will be able to escape a good deal of bewilderment" Robert Bell, in The School Librarian, September, 1975.
". . .appears to be the burden of all fantasy/science fiction: only the idea interests really interests the writer" Wayne Dodd, in Childrenís Literature, Vol. 4, Temple University Press, 1975.

Troubling a Star
"Convincing writing, engrossing mystery, exotic setting, environmental message - what more can one ask of a book? Buy it, read it yourself, give it to your good readers, and then wait for some major awards to roll in." Florence H. Munat, VOYA, Vol. 17 No. 5, Scarecrow Press, Inc., December, 1994.
"L'Engle's new novel, which returns to the Austin family, is both sweetly old-fashioned and contemporary. . . . Not one of L'Engleís best, but certainly a book that will find readers." Mary Harris Veeder, Booklist, Vol. 90 No. 22, American Library Association, August, 1994.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet
"On one level the book takes place in the course of an evening; on another it spans centuries. Unfortunately, the different episodes are not will integrated, and the authorís tendency to philosophize interrupts the smooth flow of the narrative. Characterization, though, is carefully handled, and if the book is flawed on a structural level, it is impeccable on an emotional one." K. M. Klockner, Horn Book, October, 1978.

An Acceptable Time
"It is beautifully written story that is likely to appeal to sensitive adolescents. It is not a book for everyone, but those who enjoy a good fantasy adventure and are not put off by obvious Christian allusions will enjoy another wonderful L'Engle tale" Arthea J.S. Reed, The ALAN Review, Spring 1990.
". . .perfectly awful. The physics is bogus, the anthropology appallingly Eurocentric, and the prose studded with horrors . . ." Polly Shulman, Voice Literary Supplement, May 1990.


A Wrinkle in Time
This is the first in the science fiction/fantasy series dealing with the Murry family. It has been acclaimed for many decades as quality young adult literature. And it continues to entertain readers today.
The storyís protagonist, Meg Murry, happened to be born into a very intelligent family: both parents are scientists and her younger brother is already a genius. Meg herself is going through some times fitting in at school and has many run-ins with the unsympathetic principal.
Besides trying to get along at school, Meg is very stressed about the disappearance of her father. Meg knows something is terribly wrong because of the length of time he has been gone. With her precocious younger brother, Charles Wallace, leading the way, Meg meets Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. Together they begin a dangerous journey to another planet where her father is trapped be the power of IT.
Along the way the reader is introduced to wonderful characters and creatures; travel through tesseracts - wrinkles in time; defeat evil; and meet one wonderfully strong young woman, Meg Murry.

Meet the Austins
The first published in the LíEngleís novels that deal with the Austin family. You will want to become a part of this wonderful family, or at least visit them. They may be somewhat unrealistic in todayís world of divorce and dysfunctional families, but they are so well developed that you buy the fantasy.
The narrator of this story is Vicky Austin. She is a young girl on the brink of adolescence. As if this isnít enough to deal with, Uncle Hal, a close family friend has just died. This death has brought the arrival of Maggy Hamilton, a spoiled insolent little girl who has is made an orphan by the death of her father, Hal. Although Halís wife/Maggyís stepmother, Aunt Elena, is still in the picture, she is unable to care for Maggy who only came to them a short while before Halís death (after her grandfather grows sick).
The plot revolves around the Austin family and their enormous love. Vicky struggles to come to grips with the death of her Uncle Hal and come to terms with Maggy and the disruption she has caused in her home. She has a very nurturing mother, a gentle but understanding father, an older brother who is usually kind, a younger sister and brother, a loving eccentric uncle, two dogs, an unbelievably sweet grandfather, and various other friends.
This family and their love and warmth supply a story that is interesting, funny, sad, and everything in between. Vickyís unique perspective keeps the story honest and sincere.

Troubling A Star
This most recent story in the Austin family series focuses mainly on Vicky Austin and her many adventures. Readers still get a peak at the wonderful Austin family, but focus switches to new interesting characters in Vickyís life. This is a mystery, romance, and environmental message all rolled into one.
Again the narrator is Vicky Austin who is now sixteen. The Austin family has just returned to their small New England hometown after a year in New York. Vicky is having problems fitting back in and lingers over her crush on Adam Eddington, her older brother Johnís best friend. Adam, who is a freshman in college, introduces Vicky to his Aunt Serena. They immediately strike up a friendship.
Aunt Serena gives Vicky a birthday present of a trip to Antarctica. This land hold many memories for Serena because her son, Adamís namesake, died while on expedition there. Vicky is enthralled by this adventure because of the mystery she senses around Adam IIís death and also because Adam III (her love interest) will be serving an internship at a research station.
Vicky embarks on her journey and enters a world she knows little about - one of death threats, politics, dictatorships, princes, environmental lessons, and all sorts of exotic places. On her trip she meets intriguing people who keep her entertained and guessing. She struggles to sort out her feelings for Adam and deal with the mystery that is encasing her.
Although the reader knows Vicky is left to die on an iceberg, one will have a hard time predicting the outcome of this adventure.

Unifying Elements

When reading the young adult work Madeleine L'Engle, especially the series involving the Murry family and the Austin family, one can not help but become involved in the plots. The sense of family and family love are expressed beautifully and help the young adult characters deal successfully with the challenges set before them. These characters deal with being different in a society that values sameness. They struggle to develop their gifts and emerge as strong individuals. Along the way important issues are addressed such as death, education, being alone, first love, good verses evil, and environmental issues.

A L'Engle Character Family Tree can be found in the cover of A Wind in the Door. The main characters are listed along with their relation to each other and to the stories.

To read about the Murry-O'Keefes Families (science fiction/fantasy):
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Many Waters
An Acceptable Time

To read about the Austin Families (fiction):
Meet the Austins
The Moon by Night
The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas
The Young Unicorns
A Ring of Endless Light
The Anti-Muffins
Troubling a Star

Student Activities

1. Art Suggestions:
* Draw pictures of the more eccentric characters (like Mrs. Whatsit from A Wrinkle in Time).
* Illustrate what the charactersí communities or houses looked like.
* Sketch what the animals looked like (the dogs in the Murry and Austin houses and the penguins and other creatures in Troubling a Star).
* Create a model of a characterís house or town.
* Design a movie poster advertisement for the novel.

2. Writing Suggestions:
* Create a diary for any of the characters discussing how they felt and how they want to respond to any particular situation.
* Research and report on environmental issues facing our world (Troubling a Star).
* Create descriptions of the perfect family.
* Defend or criticize L'Engleís families/characters as being realistic.
* Write a letter or send an E-mail to Madeleine L'Engle telling her what you liked or any general comments about the work.
* Create a cast list if the novel were to be turned into a motion picture.

3. Other Suggestions:
* Act out a portion of the novel, designing sets, costumes, and props.
* Conduct an interview of a character with one or more students being the characters and one student acting as host/interviewer.

Works Cited

Book Review Digest, 1979, 1980, 1990. 1991.
Bryfonski, Dedria, ed. Contempory Literary Criticism, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 980.ìToubling a Star.î Publishers Weekly, 4 July 1994, p. 65.
Munat, Florence H. ìTroubling a Star.î VOYA, December 1994, p. 63.
Reed, Arthea J.S. ìAn Acceptable Timeî (Clip and File Reviews of New Hardbacks). The ALAN Review, Spring 1990, p. 33.
Schmidt, Gary D. ìThe Story as Teller, An Interview With Madeleine LíEngle.î The ALAN Review, Winter 1991, pp. 10 -14.
Trosky, Susan M., ed. Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1992.
Veeder, Mary Harris. ìLíEngle, Madeleine. Troubling a Star.î Booklist, August 1994, p. 2039.

Page compiled in part by: Colleen Eiger

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