November 29, 1918 – September 6, 2007

Madeleine L’Engle died yesterday. She was 88.

Something to think about: L’Engle’s career didn’t really take off until the 1960s, when she was already over 40. A Wrinkle in Time was finally published (after many rejections) in 1962. She continued to publish prolifically into her 80s.

ETA: I made a Madeleine L’Engle category. (Includes my three-part review of the elusive Ilsa.)

Also found this in an old writing file:

Back in the day, I kept my Madeleine L’Engle books on a separate shelf and called them my “special books.” Every time I went into a new library, I’d look to see if there were any books listed that I hadn’t heard of and every time I entered a bookstore, I’d head to the Ls to see if they had any books I hadn’t read.

But I never wrote her a letter.

In fact, the idea didn’t even occur to me until I was out of university and found her book A Circle of Quiet. In the book, she writes about finding an apartment on West End Avenue. She wrote the address. I thought, I wonder if she still lives there? Curious, I headed to the library and looked her up in the NY phone book (on microfiche!) It was listed, not under her name, but under that of her late husband, Hugh Franklin. Imagine that. A reasonably well-known actor and a writer with a listed phone number. So now, I had her address. I even had her phone number. I could write her a letter. I could call. But I didn’t.

I tried to write a letter, but it just came out sounding dumb. You’re my favorite author! I’ve read everything of yours that I could get my hands on! Why is Ilsa out of print? Will you ever write about Vicky as an adult? etc. I couldn’t bring myself to send something so dorky. Eventually I deleted it from my hard drive.

And that was the closest I got to writing a fan letter.

ETA Part 2: Since nearly every tribute I’ve seen begins and ends with A Wrinkle in Time, I thought I’d add this: Madeleine L’Engle’s bibliography and my personal L’Engle collection:

Austin Family. This is my favorite series; The Moon by Night is my favorite of her fiction books.

Meet the Austins, 1960 The Moon By Night, 1963 The Young Unicorns, 1968
A Ring of Endless Light, 1980 Troubling a Star, 1994

Murry – O’Keefe Family. My favorites are A Swiftly Tilting Planet and The Arm of the Starfish.

A Wrinkle in Time, 1962 A Wind in the Door, 1973 Many Waters, 1986 A Swiftly Tilting Planet, 1978
The Arm of the Starfish, 1965 Dragons in the Waters, 1976 A House Like a Lotus, 1984 An Acceptable Time, 1989

Katherine Forrester. The Small Rain was her first novel.

The Small Rain, 1945 A Severed Wasp, 1982

Camilla Dickinson.

Camilla, 1965 A Live Coal in the Sea, 1996

Miscellaneous Fiction.

Ilsa, 1946 And Both Were Young, 1949 A Winter’s Love, 1957
The Love Letters, 1966 The Other Side of the Sun, 1971 Certain Women, 1992

Autobiographical. A Circle of Quiet is my favorite of her non-fiction books. Must-read for writers.

A Circle of Quiet, 1972 The Summer of the Great Grandmother, 1974 The Irrational Season, 1977 Two-Part Invention, 1988

Miscellaneous Non-Fiction. Miracle on 10th Street is a mixture of non-fiction & fiction. Contains two Austin family stories: The 24 Days Before Christmas and A Full House.

Reflections on Faith and Art, 1980 Miracle on 10th Street, 1998