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January, 2008


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Legendary Storyteller Madeleine L'Engle Passes
Her stories needed telling
By  Mark London

M
adeleine L'Engle, author of over 60 books, best known for writing childhood fables and her classic novel A Wrinkle In Time, passed away at age 88, on Thursday, September 6th. Her publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, announced her death stating that Ms. L'Engle (pronounced LENG-el) had died of natural causes at a nursing home.

Born November 29, 1918, she spent her formative years in New York City, although at the age of 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. Her high-school years were spent at Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina and vacationing with her mother in a rambling old cottage on a beautiful stretch of Florida Beach.

After studying English at Smith College with some exceptional teaching staff assisting her, she read the classics and was encouraged to continue her own creative writing. Graduating with honours, she moved into a Greenwich Village apartment back in New York, where working in a theatre, with Union pay rate and flexible hours, she had the time to write, and publish, her first two novels, A Small Rain and Ilsa.

She married her husband Hugh during those years, had a baby girl, and moved to Connecticut to raise the family away from the big city in a small dairy farm village with more cows than people. They moved back to New York with three children, and during all those years she continued to write while her husband pursued his acting career.

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Winner of the American Library Association's Newbery Medal for best children's book A Wrinkle In Time went through more than 60 printings, was adapted for television and established Ms. L'Engle as one of the best-selling children's authors of her generation. The book introduced many readers to a "tesseract," a principle, according to the narrative, that allows the youths to "travel through space without having to go the long way around."

She attempted to sell A Wrinkle In Time to many publishers before Farrar, Straus & Giroux agreed to purchase the manuscript and publish the book - with the stipulation that the author should not expect much audience reaction. In turn, she had her contract written so that the company could forever have the rights to the book, anywhere in the universe, except in the Andromeda galaxy.

A Wrinkle In Time was an instant sensation and attracted critical praise that culminated in her receiving the Newbery Medal.

Her writing was prolific, her novels well accepted, and she had a reputation for being a kind and gentle person with family, friends and readers alike. She will be sorely missed.

She is survived by her two daughters, Josephine Jones of Goshen, CT and Maria Rooney and her husband John of Mystic, CT; her five grandchildren, Madeleine Jones Roy and her husband Rob, Charlotte Jones Voiklis and her husband John, Edward Jones, Bryson Rooney, all of New York City, and Alexander Rooney, of Mystic CT; and five great-grandchildren, Kosta and Magda Voiklis, and Cooper, Finn, and Scarlett Roy. She was preceded in death by her husband, Hugh Franklin, and her son, Bion Barnett Franklin.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial gift may be made to Crosswicks Foundation, Ltd, 924 West End Ave, apt 95, New York, New York, 10025.

Our collective condolences go out to the family.

Bibliography:

18 Washington Square South: A Comedy in One Act, 1944
The Small Rain, 1945
Ilsa, 1946
And Both Were Young, 1949
Camilla Dickinson, 1951
A Winter's Love, 1957
Meet the Austins, 1960
A Wrinkle in Time, 1962
The Moon By Night, 1963
The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas, 1964
The Arm of the Starfish, 1965
Camilla, 1965
The Love Letters, 1966
A Journey With Jonah (a play), 1967
The Young Unicorns, 1968
Dance in the Desert, 1969
Lines Scribbled on an Envelope and Other Poems, 1969
The Other Side of the Sun, 1971
A Circle of Quiet, 1972
A Wind in the Door, 1973
Everyday Prayers, 1974
Prayers for Sunday, 1974
The Risk of Birth, 1974
The Summer of the Great Grandmother, 1974
Dragons in the Waters, 1976
The Irrational Season, 1977
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, 1978
The Weather of the Heart, 1978
Ladder of Angels, 1979
The Anti-Muffins, 1980
A Ring of Endless Light, 1980
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, 1980
A Severed Wasp, 1982
The Sphinx at Dawn, 1982
And It Was Good: Reflections on Beginnings, 1983
A House Like a Lotus, 1984
Trailing Clouds of Glory: Spiritual Values in Children's Literature, 1985 (with Avery Brooke)
Many Waters, 1986
A Stone for a Pillow: Journeys with Jacob, 1986
A Cry Like a Bell, 1987
Two-Part Invention, 1988
An Acceptable Time, 1989
Sold Into Egypt: Joseph's Journey into Human Being, 1989
The Glorious Impossible, 1990
Certain Women, 1992
The Rock That is Higher, 1993
Anytime Prayers, 1994
Troubling a Star, 1994
Glimpses of Grace, 1996 (with Carole Chase)
A Live Coal in the Sea, 1996
Penguins and Golden Calves: Icons and Idols, 1996
Wintersong, 1996 (with Luci Shaw)
Bright Evening Star, 1997
Friends for the Journey, 1997 (with Luci Shaw)
Mothers and Daughters, 1997 (with Maria Rooney)
Miracle on 10th Street, 1998
A Full House, 1999
Mothers and Sons, 1999 (with Maria Rooney)
Prayerbook for Spiritual Friends, 1999 (with Luci Shaw)
The Other Dog, 2001
Madeleine L'Engle Herself: Reflections on a Writing Life, 2001 (with Carole Chase)
The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L'Engle, 2005

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Mark London is a Toronto based freelance writer and associate editor of IN who has been with the FWO-Int'l from the early years volunteering much of his time in assisting young writers' careers. Email : talktome@canoemail.com


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