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Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L’Engle was born in New York City on a snowy night in 1918. She wrote her first story about a little ‘grul’, when she was five years old – it wasn’t science fiction, Madeleine was not very good at spelling! She didn’t do very well at school because she was always busy writing stories and poems when she should have been doing schoolwork. When she was twelve the family moved to the French Alps for a better climate for her father. She went to an English boarding school in Switzerland and was inspired to write a romantic novel, And Both Were Young – she never lost her love of reading and writing. At fourteen she returned to the US to study in South Carolina and to later take a degree at Smith College.

After graduation she moved into a small apartment with an assortment of friends in New York’s Greenwich village. There she wrote her first two published novels and became an actor to improve her skills as a playwright. She met her husband, Hugh Franklin, when they were both appearing in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. The later traveled widely performing dramatic readings from Madeleine’s books.

In 1963, A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle’s most famous children’s title, won the Newberry Medal – the most prestigious award for a children’s novel in the US. When asked why she, such a distinguished writer of adult novels, sometimes chose to write for children, she replied: “When I have something to say that I think will be too difficult for adults, I write it in a book for children. Children are excited by new ideas; they have not yet closed the doors and windows of their imaginations. Provided the story is good … nothing is too difficult for children.”