Madeleine L’Engle, RIP

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 thoughts on “Madeleine L’Engle, RIP

  1. 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”

  2. 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.

  3. 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*

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. …sadness.


    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.

  15. Omigod.

    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.

  16. 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.

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

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

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

    sad-making 🙁

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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. 🙁


  24. 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.

  25. 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. 🙁

  26. 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))


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