Madeleine L'Engle Biography


Type: Writer

Born: November 29, 1918

Died: September 6, 2007 (aged 88)

At age 12, she moved to the French Alps with her parents and went to an English boarding school where, thankfully, her passion for writing continued to grow. She flourished during her high school years back in the United States at Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, vacationing with her mother in a rambling old beach cottage on a beautiful stretch of Florida Beach.

She went to Smith College and studied English with some wonderful teachers as she read the classics and continued her own creative writing. She graduated with honors and moved into a Greenwich Village apartment in New York. She worked in the theater, where Equity union pay and a flexible schedule afforded her the time to write! She published her first two novels during these years—A Small Rain and Ilsa—before meeting Hugh Franklin, her future husband, when she was an understudy in Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard. They married during The Joyous Season.

She had a baby girl and kept on writing, eventually moving to Connecticut to raise the family away from the city in a small dairy farm village with more cows than people. They bought a dead general store, and brought it to life for 9 years. They moved back to the city with three children, and Hugh revitalized his professional acting career.

As the years passed and the children grew, Madeleine continued to write and Hugh to act, and they to enjoy each other and life. Madeleine began her association with the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, where she was the librarian and maintained an office for more than thirty years. After Hugh’s death in 1986, it was her writing and lecturing that kept her going. She lived through the 20th century and into the 21st and wrote over 60 books. She enjoyed being with her friends, her children, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren.

Many of her papers are at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Selected works:

  • First-generation (Murry)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
  • A Wind in the Door (1973)
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978)
  • Many Waters (1986)
  • Second-generation (O'Keefe)
  • The Arm of the Starfish (1965)
  • Dragons in the Waters (1976)
  • A House Like a Lotus (1984)
  • An Acceptable Time (1989)


  • Meet the Austins (1960)
  • The Moon by Night (1963)
  • The Young Unicorns (1968)
  • A Ring of Endless Light (1980)
  • The Anti-Muffins (1980)
  • The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas (1984)
  • Troubling a Star (1994)
  • A Full House: An Austin Family Christmas


  • Ilsa (1946)
  • And Both Were Young (1949)
  • A Winter's Love (1957)
  • The Love Letters (1966),
  • The Other Side of the Sun (1971)
  • Certain Women (1996 [1992])
  • The Joys of Love (2008)

Madeleine L'Engle Quotes

It takes too much energy to be against something unless it's really important.

You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.

It's not my brain that's writing the book, it's these hands of mine.

A book comes and says, 'Write me.

When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens.

I'm apt to get drunk on words...Ontology: the word about the essence of things; the word about being.

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