Madeleine L’Engle Interesting Facts 📝

Madeleine L’Engle lived an accomplished professional and personal life and died of natural causes in September 2007 at the age of 88. She left us with quite a colourful literary back catalogue – among which is her eponymous work, ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’

Madeleine L'Engle

(1918-2007), American

Madeleine L’Engle’s writing was top-shelf, and her imagination high-end. These qualities have been shown time and again across her best works. Readers may know the author by her works such as ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and ‘Meet the Austins,’ but if you’re fascinated by the author’s literary brilliance and want to know who she really was, then you won’t want to miss these 10 interesting facts about Madeleine L’Engle, author of ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ 

L’Engle was the only child of her parents

Madeleine L’Engle was the only child of writer Charles Wadsworth Camp and pianist Madeleine Hall Barnett. The couple gave birth to young L’Engle late into their marriage – exactly after 12 years of their union and would not conceive again after her.

L’Engle was loved and greatly cared for and would often move around with her parents due to the demands of their full-time career – although, according to the author, some of their later travels were forced by her father’s failing health and the need to get him the best necessities available. 

She wrote her first story at age 5

L’Engle spent the majority of her childhood with her parents, and the times that she wasn’t in their presence, she was either in school or alone in her room alone reading tons of storybooks her parents had gotten for her. 

Her reading culture kicked off very early because of her parents’ inclination toward education, and L’Engle was given all the support. Before the age of 5, she had already read several story books from her favorite authors, and when she clocked that age, she took to writing one herself. 

She wanted to quit and almost didn’t write  A Wrinkle in Time

L’Engle had several periods in her career when the going was too tough, and she wanted to quit. The first real threat to her career was settling down with Hugh Franklin in 1946. The author found her marital responsibilities very draining – particularly when kids started coming into the picture. 

Failure to manage family demands and still writing prolifically led to her thinking she might have to give up work for her family, and she most certainly did, at least temporarily, as she took an extended break to which she dedicated to her family.

The late 1950s was perhaps her worst career moment following a series of low sales despite her prolificness. The author wasn’t seeing any reasonable financial incentive from her work and promised herself she would quit for good. This, however, never really happened because she was so addicted to writing that she couldn’t go through with it. 

The 60s rewarded her perseverance with the success of her series The Austin Family, and shortly afterward, she published ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, and her career never hit another low from there. 

A Wrinkle in Time was rejected over 26 times by publishers 

Madeleine L’Engle published ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ in 1962 but actually finished the original manuscript two years earlier. The reason for the delayed publishing of the book was completely beyond her and was in the hands of book publishers, most of whom decided against sanctioning the book’s release. 

These publishers didn’t think the book followed the standard convention for children’s books and wrote off the book as a potential disaster regarding sales expectations. It was in 1962 that the book was finally published, after at least 26 painful rejections endured by the author.

Her teacher had a falling out with her for being too smart 

When Madeleine L’Engle was in fifth grade, she didn’t exactly have a lot going for her. She was shy, not athletic, and couldn’t connect socially with her peers and teachers. 

The only thing going well for her was her academics, particularly her creative writing subjects. Once, she got pretty popular for winning a poetry contest which she had entered with her mates because her poems read, unlike anything a fifth grader had written. Because her poem was so good, her teacher accused her of copying the work.

A Wrinkle in Time was banned several times from shelves 

L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ has been banned for a fairly good amount of time, prompting it to occupy the 20th spot of the top 100 most banned books in America. Across the country, and for a number of times, the book’s banning had been attributed to a perceived lack of substance for its genre, a sheer attack on Christianity, and support for the occult. 

She bagged an English degree from Smith College

 Madeleine L’Engle spent a huge part of her life getting formal education – an indulgence which, in no small amount, helped her better her skill as a writer. 

The author’s parents, particularly her father, Charles Wandsworth, wanted her to follow the family’s artistic legacy, and so getting her formal education was a priority. 

From age 2 to 5, L’Engle attended foundational schools in New York City, but moved to Switzerland with her family at age 12 and got enrolled at an all-girls school. The family later returned to the United States during the heat of World War II. She was then registered at Ashley Hall, a South Carolina girls boarding school, as a teenager. In 1941, she graduated with a degree in English from Smith College and then moved to New York City to pursue an acting career.

She married actor Hugh Franklin and had 3 children 

While in New York City and working as a scriptwriter for a popular theatre, L’Engle had the liberty of working with Hugh Franklin in a set of ‘The Cherry Orchard’ in 1944. Franklin was one of the cast, and L’Engle was with the production crew.

They hit it off, and two years later got married and went on to have two biological children – a son Bion, and a daughter Josephine – and later adopted seven years old Maria. 

She was a devout Christian and showed that in her work 

 Madeleine L’Engle was a Christian and became a fully committed one later into her adulthood. However, some of her Christian beliefs differed slightly from the prevalent conventions of the time. For example, unlike other Christians who believed that only a few who knew and accepts Jesus would be saved, L’Engle believes in universal salvationism. 

She made efforts to instill these beliefs in her work, however unpopular and contradictory they might appear. Her book ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ is particularly one of her works that is very faith-based – as there are a number of scenarios where she is either alluding to a certain biblical story or even quoting directly from the scriptures.

L’Engle children were the first audiences to A Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L’Engle’s children were the unlikely first audiences of her best work, ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ During the time that she was putting the final pieces of the manuscript together, she needed a makeshift audience as part of the testing phase for how well the book was in terms of engagement and impact. The author couldn’t get one, so she opted to use her children as her audience – and thus, they became the first receptors of the historic book.


How many of L’Engle’s books have been adapted for television?

Several of L’Engle’s books have, over the years, been adapted for television. From ‘Camilla Dickinson’ to ‘A Ring of Endless Lights’ to her best work –  ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’

Was the ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ adaptation a success?

A Wrinkle in Time’ by Ava DuVernay wasn’t such a huge success, especially with regard to its market performance, as it lost more than a hundred million post box office, winning 2018’s Worse Film of the Year.

What year was ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ first adapted from book to film?

L’Engle’s bestseller had undergone several book-to-screen adaptations since its 1962 publication, but the first of the same name was shot in 2002 and released the following year. 

Who directed a more refined version of L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’? 

Even though her adaptation wasn’t much of a financial success, Ava DuVernay, an award-winning black director, is credited to have masterminded a much more refined version of L’Engle’s original work in ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ 

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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