Scott Westerfeld
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Madeleine L’Engle, RIP

September 8th, 2007

The author of A Wrinkle in Time has left us. Her work is one of the things that made me a writer, a science fiction and fantasy fan, an avid reader. Hers were the first books I read that mixed math and magic, the quest and the quantum. To put it simply, without L’Engle’s tesseracts, Midnighters would have no tridecalogisms.

Here are a few more thoughts I put down for New York Magazine‘s Culture Blog.

And here Gwenda Bond quotes L’Engle at length on what authors know or don’t know about what their novels mean.

According to the NY Times obit, A Wrinkle in Time has sold six million copies since 1962, but lately moves only 15,000 copies per year. One copy a year for every 20,000 Americans? Somewhere, IT is having a good laugh, and getting ready.

How many of you guys have read her work? (Believe me, you should.)

104 Responses to “Madeleine L’Engle, RIP”

  1. 1
    September 8th, 2007 08:28


    aww thats so sad…=(
    wow thats a lot of books….

  2. 2
    September 8th, 2007 08:30

    My mom bought me the book because my names Madeleine also (she also new it was an awesome book). This summer I decided to read it and it was awesome.

    Also, because of you, Scott, and Stephenie Meyer (author of Twilight) I decided to write my own book. It’s a bout a seventeen year old girl who falls in love with a time traveler, and travels to the past and future to save the world from complete and total destruction. It’s working title is Rain.
    Maybe one day it could be published and become the next “Wrinkle in Time”

  3. 3
    September 8th, 2007 08:47


  4. 4
    September 8th, 2007 08:48

    That’s so sad. I’ve heard of the book but I’ve never read it; obviously, I should.

  5. 5
    September 8th, 2007 08:49

    i want to try her books

  6. 6
    September 8th, 2007 08:55

    Oh, no! I cannot tell you how much this has ruined my day. A Wrinkle In Time is one of those first books I remember enjoying. It lives there with Holes and Harry Potter and The Bridge to Terabithia.

    I remembered when my mom got it for me at the Used Book Sale too because it was all wrinkly and an obnoxious pink. I wasn’t going to read it (because back then in 4th grade, I wasn’t much of a reader) but I had a book report so I began and I had my nose stuck in it for 3 days.

  7. 7
    September 8th, 2007 09:12

    never read it.


  8. 8
    September 8th, 2007 09:18

    I haven’t read it yet:(

    *shivers* Midnighters without tridecalogisms. Scary.

  9. 9
    September 8th, 2007 09:24

    Yeah. Tridecalogisms have changed my life as i once knew it! without them i…

    And that is soooooo overzealously sad! i own A Wrinkle In Time, but i read it in Kindergarten and dont remember anything about it. just that it was one of the best books ive ever read. maybe i should reread it. hhhhmmmm.
    Rest In Peace. And the Ground.

    Lizzy-wa :( *tears* *crys* *sniffle*

  10. 10
    September 8th, 2007 09:48

    I could still describe where I was sitting and the classroom I was sitting in on a rainy lunchtime in sixth grade when I first finished A Wrinkle In Time. That was over 25 years ago. One of the strongest memories I have related to a book from that period in my life. It certainly played a role in me wanting to learn more geometry.

  11. 11
    September 8th, 2007 09:49

    I feel really guilty because i’ve always wanted to read a wrinkle in time after partially watching the movie, thinking, “of course the book is always better than the movie…” Am I right? But i never get a chance to….(Now im really considering it, next time to the trip to the library of course. I should really thanks madelein for writing this book beacuse it really inspired scott to write by far, by my opinion, the best book out of all the books you’ve written scott, so thanks again madalein and god bless.

  12. 12
    September 8th, 2007 09:59

    Oh wow, that’s so sad. I remember a few years ago how a teacher read us A Wrinkle in Time.

  13. 13
    September 8th, 2007 10:01

    i think my sister read it, but i never did.

  14. 14
    September 8th, 2007 10:14

    =[ i’m sorry for your loss.

  15. 15
    September 8th, 2007 10:19

    An awesome book, an awesome author. I didn’t realize she was that old…or did she die from unnatural causes? *is going to go look it up*

    I definitely suggest A Wrinkle In Time to anyone who hasn’t read it. Even though it is a late elementary/early middle school book, it is still really good

  16. 16
    September 8th, 2007 10:22

    THAT IS SO SAD wrinkle in time is like ya scifi goodness a god among them

  17. 17
    September 8th, 2007 10:28

    wow. that’s rather unexpected.

    and it’s a book that i’ve always been meaning to read, but then i’d see some new book and forget. i just requested it from my library, though. my mom walked in right after i read the post and i went “MADELEINE L’ENGLE PASSED AWAY!” and she said “who’s that?” and then my jaw dropped to the floor.

    so i don’t feel nearly as ignorant now. and she wants to read it too since i told her about all the circulation it’s gotten since ’62.

    wow again…one of my friends is in love with all of her books, how will i tell her?

  18. 18
    September 8th, 2007 10:35

    that’s a shame…book was great. the tv movie sucked. Dylan:)

  19. 19
    September 8th, 2007 10:53

    when i was in 6th grade i was in a book partenership with this guy jake and we read a lot of the Wrinkle in Time series… we ended up bonding over the book and now hes one of my best friends…. i cant believe she died, its really sad.

  20. 20
    September 8th, 2007 11:02

    Whoa. That was what I thought when I saw the first line of this post. Madeleine L’Engle was one of the first authors that made me realize that there are clever, brilliant, vast books that take you away to mysterious places… in other words, A Wrinkle In Time was one of the first books to make me love reading. I read some of the others, too, but I remember none as vividly. My copy seems to have vanished, and I had been meaning to read it again for about a year now. I think I’ll be part of the rush to pick up a new copy.

  21. 21
    meghan d
    September 8th, 2007 11:15

    I was so sad when I heard this. I read about 15 of her books when I was younger. They really affected me somehow, and made me love reading.

  22. 22
    September 8th, 2007 11:23

    she really is great.

    -Lizzy-wa out. :(

  23. 23
    September 8th, 2007 11:30

    I love that book. It was one of the first books that I read more than twice. Its sad more people haven’t read it.

  24. 24
    September 8th, 2007 11:52

    unfortunately, i haven’t read any of her work………I always saw that book but was not always so convinced. Now i WILL read it.
    Thankz, Scott.

  25. 25
    September 8th, 2007 11:55

    Aw, that’s really sad, but it’s nice that she had a chance to leave her mark on the world.
    I read the first two Wrinkle In Time books in 6th grade. They were part of our school reading, and still are. Those were actually the only books I liked for school reading, and The Giver, though everyone else I know hated it *shakes head*.

    I just got back from a camping field trip for school (3 Days) and am so completely tired.

  26. 26
    September 8th, 2007 12:02



    I read A Wrinkle in Time out loud to my family during a vacation in Montana. It’s one of those lifelong cherished memories, and is probably the reason I can read out loud today. I read the whole series in about a month. It might be one of the reasons I started liking reading. Sort of my Harry Potter, I guess, a few years before those came out.

    Ahh, I be sad now. I think I’ll go revisit her books. The second one, with the unicorn, was always my favorite.

  27. 27
    September 8th, 2007 12:12

    tommorow, the eighth, is my birthday!!!

  28. 28
    September 8th, 2007 12:14


    No sadly I have not read it. My “to read” book list is getting really long. (going on it)

  29. 29
    September 8th, 2007 12:19


    I just assumed that Madeleine L’Engle was one of those authors that wasn’t that old and wouldn’t be dying anytime soon- I had no idea that A Wrinkle in Time was published in 1962!

    The only book I read of hers was A Ring of Endless Light, and I loved it. I’m definitely going to add A Wrinkle in Time to my list of books to read.

  30. 30
    September 8th, 2007 12:19

    That’s so sad! I love those books! I’ve read “A Wrinkle in Time” three times. My mom’s going to be so crushed; Madeleine L’Engle was one of her favorite authors.

  31. 31
    September 8th, 2007 12:20

    i havent read it because ive never been into scifi until i read scotts books. (isnt that happy-making scott?!)

  32. 32
    September 8th, 2007 12:21

    the happy-making thing is that scott made me like some scifi, not that this author died

  33. 33
    September 8th, 2007 12:36

    oh my… i am crying right now, I love Madeleine! She was my favorite! I loved her before I loved Narnia and Redwall, she taught me to grow up, she taught me to love myself. Why does it feel like my childhood is slipping away right before my eyes. I loved her more than Harry Potter. Her books are the largest collection I own. I actually drove my teachers crazy beacause I would only do book reports on her. This is not good for me. I still read about Meg, Vicky, and Polly when I feel utterly alone. They are universal characters with universal problems, desopite the science fiction. Life sux. But she also taught me to let go. She was a wonderful writer. She is one of the main reasons I am not resentful that my biological father is dead. I learned to forgive because of her. How many writers can do that? Teach children across the world to love and forgive and persevere?

  34. 34
    September 8th, 2007 12:38

    guess what?

  35. 35
    September 8th, 2007 12:54


  36. 36
    September 8th, 2007 13:06

    Oh my gosh.

    I can’t believe she died.

    We read A Wrinkle In Time in fifth grade, and, like you, Scott, it was one the first scifi books that I liked. It’s so unique and magical, I remember reading ahead of my class and yearning to find out what would happen. I read it three times before we had to give it back, and I always wanted to read the sequels, but I never did.

    Though my only experience of her writing was A Wrinkle In Time, it has always been one of my all time favorite books. Every reread is full of the same magic that it had when I first read it, and the world just comes to life; the epic tale of love triumphing over evil and oppression that moved me to tears then continues to touch me now.

    It is a terrible thought that the woman who created this magic is now gone, but I now that she is now in a place far more magical. She will live on in her books, but she will be deeply missed.

  37. 37
    September 8th, 2007 13:13

    read it once. i didn’t really liek it must read again since the type of books that i like have changed.

    sad-making :(

  38. 38
    September 8th, 2007 13:15


  39. 39
    September 8th, 2007 13:19

    guten tag.

    okay rachael-la, we get it. how old are you going to be?

  40. 40
    September 8th, 2007 13:21


  41. 41
    September 8th, 2007 13:26

    my sister is 13. i am 15.

  42. 42
    September 8th, 2007 13:30

    haha im in eighth grade im younger than everyone but i look 15 or 16

  43. 43
    September 8th, 2007 13:43

    im gonna go to bed. night.

  44. 44
    September 8th, 2007 13:51

    Wow… I can’t believe it. Ms. L’engle… gone? One of the greatest Science Fic writers of all time. A Wrinkle in Time, A Ring of Endless Light… *sigh* How depressing. I hope she rests in peace.

  45. 45
    September 8th, 2007 13:56

    Madeleine L’Engle is one of the most inspiring authors to me. I love a Wrinkle in time

  46. 46
    Walter Underwood
    September 8th, 2007 14:20

    I first read A Wrinkle in Time a few years ago and enjoyed it (I’m past 50), but my wife and several of her female engineer friends LOVED the book when they were young. The math-smart female character and “love conquers all” message were just what they needed to hear while growing up.

    My own early teen years are defined by Space Cadet, Have Space Suit Will Travel, and the Judith Merril S-F anthologies, but I’ll raise a glass to Ms. L’Engle for empowering that early generation of girl geeks.

  47. 47
    September 8th, 2007 14:22

    She died? Sad. I’ve never read any of her books, but I will deffinatly read one now. Now that I have been intruduced to it, I will HAVE to read it. Sad. Sad, sad sad. :(


  48. 48
    September 8th, 2007 14:28

    I found out from Cecil’s blog earlier today. It was sad to hear that Madeleine L’Engle is gone. I can’t remember when I read A Wrinkle in Time, but I know I was older than most kids are when they first read it. I’d heard about her books for ages but had never got around to reading any. Don’t know what finally made me pick one up, but I’m glad I did. ML was such a well-known author though. She’s one of the first YA writers I ever heard of.

  49. 49
    September 8th, 2007 14:43

    Still Crying.

    Rachael-la…actually, im the youngest. im in 7th grade, i turn 13 in November, and i look like a…a VERY short 7th grader. ok im not that short but everybody says i am. 4’8″. pretty short. but im really smart and take half 8th grade classes. i would have put an exclamation point on the last sentencs, but im two sad to be happy.

    Still Crying.

    -Lizzy-wa out. :(

  50. 50
    September 8th, 2007 15:02

    Lizzy-Wa, I’m a november too!! But I’m a year older then you. I thought that I was the youngest one on here!! (And I’m really short for my age too) ((Well, actually everyone else is EXTREMELY TALL))


  51. 51
    September 8th, 2007 15:14

    oh thats depressing… we read the book as a class in 7th grade which i have to say ruined it a little BUT. so true; was an AMAZING story +it reminded me of something… with the whole everybody is perfect in a bland sort of way because their being controlled by some political figure/mastermind [or large brain. ha ha.] type nightmare that i saw in a movie. ^^ and that’s always cool in an eerie sort a’ way. right??

    was anyone who read it satisfied with the ending? it seemed a little rushed, or is that just me?

  52. 52
    September 8th, 2007 15:50

    That is such a sadness. I’ve read it, long long ago. And now I shall have to read the series again.

    Perhaps after Skin Hunger – since Justine was so adamant about everyone reading that. ;)

  53. 53
    September 8th, 2007 15:52

    That’s why there are sequels

  54. 54
    September 8th, 2007 16:35

    I read A Wrinkle in Time back in middle school. I really only remember it as being the first book where I went “this is how this book is going to end” and low and behold I was correct :D

    I love this obit. Not only does it mention my very first favorite author of all time, for the very book that is mentioned (The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman) but it is also as a bonus written by my second favorite author.

    Coincidentally, The Golden Compass is the reason that I write.

  55. 55
    September 8th, 2007 16:46


    still crying.

    -Lizzy-wa out. :(

  56. 56
    September 8th, 2007 19:02

    i’m confused.
    did someone say they read A Wrinkle in Time back in kindergarten?

  57. 57
    September 8th, 2007 22:15

    ‘A Swiftly Tilting Planet’ is the book that made me want to be a writer.

    My heart hurts.

  58. 58
    Paige Y.
    September 8th, 2007 23:42

    I’ve loved her work since I first read A Wrinkle in Time in fourth grade. One of the great things about Wrinkle was that I didn’t understand much of the science behind it but I did get the major themes. As I got older, I understood more and that made me enjoy the book on a whole new level. As a side note, my husband gave me a first edition of her first novel for my birthday one year (I do have a wonderful husband!).

  59. 59
    September 9th, 2007 02:09

    Awwww! That’s so sad! My friend LOVES her books! And I liked the few of them that I’v read.

  60. 60
    September 9th, 2007 02:37

    Oh my gosh! That’s terrible!! I love Madeline and her books. They are so amazing!! :[ well, at least i have read all of her books.. Rest in peace!!!!!

  61. 61
    September 9th, 2007 02:43

    I was upset when I heard she died as well. Although I didn’t like Wrinkle in Time very much, I loved the story behind the book. How she never gave up and didn’t care about what other people thought about her writing… I really admired her for it.

  62. 62
    September 9th, 2007 03:02

    i think we need to talk about happy stuff because i think she would of wanted it that way.

  63. 63
    September 9th, 2007 03:11

    if you click on my name, it will go to my youtube account. look at the backround, its the cover of extras!

  64. 64
    September 9th, 2007 04:00


    I read like 4 or 5 of her books. A Wrinkle in TIme used to be my favoritest book.

  65. 65
    September 9th, 2007 04:27

    That’s so sad. :( One of the things that makes me want to be a writer is that when you die your books will still live on, so it’s not like your leaving this world without contributing something to it.

    I need to read her books.

  66. 66
    September 9th, 2007 06:08

    Jess-la…i read it in kindergarten. dont remember much. just started rereading it.

    i cant believe that! only one person out of 20,000 people have bought it in the last year! that’s just sad-making.

    Well, ive just ordered 13 (lucky 13, thanks to her) copys from the internet. they should be on there way. im keeping 3 (even though i already have one) and im giving the rest to my friends for EXTRAS (newly declared world wide holiday).

    lets start the circulation back up again!!! that should make her happy.

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :) (im happy again!)

  67. 67
    September 9th, 2007 06:13

    o that is really sad. wat did she die of??
    i never read any of her books. i guess i really should now. but i think our 5th grade class watched some movie based on “A Wrinkle in Time.”
    Whoa midnighters without tridecalogisms…. that would not be nearly as good…. tridecalogisms changed my life. i mean seriously after i read those books i would count the letters of every big word i saw to check.

  68. 68
    September 9th, 2007 06:18

    ME TWO!!! :) i’m making a list. so far, i have memorized 117 (multiple of 13) tridecalogisms! all my friends think im crazy. and im starting to notice little tidbits of info, kinda like Dess.

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  69. 69
    September 9th, 2007 06:26

    hey! guess whats so cool! i just got all the twilight books from the library. so i just got online to see when they were due. and guess when there due? EXTRAS! (the newly declared world wide holiday for all of u slow peeps. Ocober 2!) it’s soooo hypochondriac! (guess what i just found out? hypochondriac sounds ttly awesome rite? but what it really is is something having to do with bacteria or some kind of disease or something. dizzy-making)

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  70. 70
    September 9th, 2007 06:37

    I wish I had known this earlier, it’s a terrible loss to the literary world and the imaginations of children everywhere. I would never have started reading sci-fi or fantasy without A Wrinkle In Time. Her legacy will live on.

  71. 71
    September 9th, 2007 06:57

    i made a potter puppet pals video about spider pig. but it isnt on youtube yet.

  72. 72
    September 9th, 2007 07:10

    ur wierd.

  73. 73
    September 9th, 2007 07:11


    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  74. 74
    September 9th, 2007 07:50

    23 days or
    571 hours or
    34270 minutes or
    2056210 seconds
    Til EXTRAS!!!!!

    (multiple of 13! thanx Madeliene!)

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  75. 75
    September 9th, 2007 08:51

    i haven’t read it but i soooooo want to!

  76. 76
    September 9th, 2007 08:58

    lizzy-wa, i know im weird!

  77. 77
    September 9th, 2007 09:15

    i am two! do u think anybody on here ISNT wierd.

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  78. 78
    September 9th, 2007 09:50

    I’m so sad about her death. I’ve read a lot of her books – the stand-alones like Camilla and Both Were Young, as well as the Wrinkle in Time series and some of the Austin books. I think this is the first time a writer I really like has died during my lifetime. So, so sad.

  79. 79
    September 9th, 2007 09:57

    i think she died naturally. she was 89.

    -Lizzy-wa out! :(

  80. 80
    September 9th, 2007 11:31

    I’ve never read any of her books, but I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about them. I think I will read them soon though.
    bye guys b/c i have to go babysit, I know what a drag, but i get payed alot so peace out.

  81. 81
    September 9th, 2007 11:51


    spider pig
    spider pig
    does whatever a spider pig does
    can he swing from a web?
    no he can’t
    he’s a pig

  82. 82
    September 9th, 2007 11:53

    (i didnt see the movie, and i dont want to)

  83. 83
    September 9th, 2007 13:03

    its definetely not a movie for the theater. i dont get why people pay 7 bucks to see it.
    when it will be on tv soon enough. but i like the song Amy-la!

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  84. 84
    September 9th, 2007 14:24

    i made a video. well its just a bunch of pictures put together. first there is a picture of uglies, a picture of pretties, a picture of specials, a picures of midnighters secret hour, a picture of midnighters touching darkness, a picture of midnighters blue noon, a picture of peeps, and a picture of the last days. then there is a series of pictures of me stacking them like a tower. then it falls down before i finish it. then i try a different way. it works. then there is a picture of that tower fallen down. so it didnt work that much. then the credits say that i shouldnt build towers for a living. and while this is happening, fall out boy is playing.

  85. 85
    September 9th, 2007 14:25

    ( i think that was the longest comment i’ve ever written)

  86. 86
    September 9th, 2007 14:26

    i wish my computer would allow me to put my video on youtube

  87. 87
    September 9th, 2007 15:19

    yeah! i want two see it!

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  88. 88
    September 9th, 2007 16:44

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE A Wrinkle In Time!!

    I wanted to share with your a parasitoid I saw when I went out to eat tonight.
    I was very scared, but I found out that it doesn’t hurt humans!

  89. 89
    September 9th, 2007 16:44

    you not your!

  90. 90
    September 10th, 2007 02:44

    that is about the freakiest looking insect i’ve ever seen…was that in your food or was it flying around or what?

  91. 91
    September 10th, 2007 03:43

    She died?!?! That’s so sad. :( I love her Time Quartet… I must have read them all a dozen times. Her books are actually what helped me get through my grandfather’s death. I was feeling really down and depressed, when one day I came across her books, and they made me feel a whole lot better.

    RIP, Madeleine L’Engle. :(

  92. 92
    September 10th, 2007 04:47

    yeah seriously! WAS that in your food?!?!?!? i would sue if i were you. eeeeewwww. thanks a lot. i just made waffles and now i cant eat them! eeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww!!!! excuse me but i have to go kill a spider. my sister’s screaming.

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  93. 93
    September 10th, 2007 04:54

    This is unbelievably sad. That book completely amazed me. I heard the news from this morning and the first thing I thought was “Dang!” I’m still going to be Mrs. Who for Halloween though.

  94. 94
    September 10th, 2007 05:06

    Mrs. Who?

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  95. 95
    September 10th, 2007 05:34

    Only 1977963 Seconds Til EXTRAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (thats a multiple of 13…thanx Madeleine!)

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  96. 96
    September 10th, 2007 05:36

    Hey…i just realized something.
    hey Scott-la…did you name Madeleine after Madeleine. you no, the mindcaster? did you did you did you?!?!?!

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  97. 97
    September 10th, 2007 05:38

    i mean its spelled the same and all. rite?

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  98. 98
    September 10th, 2007 06:53

    oh man,
    just saing IT gave me the shivers…

    she made me want to be a writer too…

  99. 99
    September 10th, 2007 07:52

    I have a wrinkle in time right here in my dorm room bookshelf. There’s not such thing as a children’s book…

    my copy is battered and old, since i read it at least once every year since i was in 4th grade. Mrs. Who was so wise, “nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything”

    Madeleine will not be forgotton.

    And the cover still freaks me out…
    oh, the cover says the books was only $2.99
    can you believe that?
    a masterpeice for 3 dollars…

  100. 100
    September 10th, 2007 08:01


    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  101. 101
    September 10th, 2007 08:25

    KOOL!!!!! POST 100!!!!!

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :P

  102. 102
    September 11th, 2007 08:26

    omg thats so sad i loved the Wrinkle in time series she wrote… those books were and still are awesome

  103. 103
    September 11th, 2007 11:53

    Oh my god, I can’t believe it! Madeleine L’Engle was the first author whose book I loved so much that I looked up other things they’d written to read. She was the person who made me a dreamer, and I haven’t gone a day without reading since then.

    The world has suffered a great loss with her death.

  104. 104
    September 16th, 2007 03:14

    WHAT?! I just read A wrinkle in time two days ago!!!

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