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L'Engle, Madeleine

Entry updated 30 October 2023. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of US actress, author and playwright Madeleine L'Engle Camp (1918-2007), whose first play, 18 Washington Square, South (1944), was produced in 1940, and who performed on the stage during the early 1940s. Her first novel, The Small Rain (1945), and some of its successors are non-genre fictions for adult audiences, but from And Both Were Young (1949) most of her sixty or more books were for children; her later work was significant in the shaping of the Young Adult market. She began to publish work of genre interest with "Poor Little Saturday" for Fantastic Universe in October 1956, and gained immediate and lasting acclaim for A Wrinkle in Time (1962), which was both her first sf novel and the first volume of the Murry-O'Keefe sequence, which includes also A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), Many Waters (1986) and An Acceptable Time (1989). A Wrinkle in Time, which won the 1963 Newbery Medal and various later awards, follows the adventures of the children of Dr Murry, a scientist abducted via a fifth-Dimensional device (see Time Distortions) to a distant planet where he is held in thrall to a mind-controlling Brain in a Box known as IT. The tight plot and ample moral scope of the tale make Meg Murry's rescue of her father into one of the more memorable moments in Children's SF.

Later novels similarly expose the Murry family to adventures and stresses, and develop a telling portrait of complex young people as their adventures ramify in what might be called their home territory: the pure immanent fullness of Time that L'Engle calls Kairos. The focus shifts from Meg herself to her younger brother in book three, and subsequently to her children. Other series, much more weighted to fantasy, interweave with the Murry-O'Keefe books, some of them containing some sf interest: in the Canon Tallis sequence, for instance, The Arm of the Starfish (1965) features organ Regeneration (and an older, married Meg Murry); and in The Young Unicorns (1968), which is set in New York, an experimental surgical laser is misused for a form of mind control. Further crossovers occur in stories also featuring the Austin Family, whose exploits are for the most part nonfantastic, most interestingly in The Young Unicorns; one Austin novel proper, A Ring of Endless Light (1980), includes a young character from The Arm of the Starfish; this book has a subplot of ESP communication with (in particular) dolphins, whose different sense of Time is discussed. A later Austin Family novel shares an imaginary country with A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

L'Engle's singletons include Dance in the Desert (graph 1969) and The Sphinx at Dawn (coll of linked stories 1982). In 1997 she received the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement. [JC/DRL]

Madeleine L'Engle Camp

born New York: 29 November 1918

died Goshen, Connecticut: 6 September 2007




  • A Wrinkle in Time (New York: Farrar Straus Cudahy, 1962) [Murry-O'Keefe: hb/Ellen Raskin]
  • A Wind in the Door (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973) [Murry-O'Keefe: hb/Richard Cuffari]
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1978) [Murry-O'Keefe: hb/Diane and Leo Dillon]
  • Many Waters (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1986) [Murry-O'Keefe: hb/Charles Mikolaycak]
    • The Time Quartet (New York: Science Fiction Book Club, 2004) [omni of the above four: Murry-O'Keefe: hb/Diane and Leo Dillon]
  • An Acceptable Time (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1989) [Murry-O'Keefe: hb/Charles Mikolaycak]

Canon Tallis and Austin Family (selected)

individual titles (highly selected)

about the author


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