Today marks the birthday of an author who forever changed the way we feel about time travel, alternate dimensions, and dark and stormy nights. Madeleine L’Engle was born on November 29th in New York City and started writing almost right away. Her first story was composed at age 8, and she went on to pen a universe of novels, poems, and non-fiction throughout her amazing and inspirational career.
L’Engle is probably best remembered by science fiction fans and children throughout the world for A Wrinkle in Time and its many sequels in both the Kairos and Chronos series. These books set an impossibly imaginative standard for children’s fantasy adventure books. In A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle appropriated the opening line “It was a dark and stormy night” from an 1830 novel Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. But truly, in the same way Sherlock Holmes hijacked “the game’s afoot!” from Shakespeare, “a dark and stormy night” now completely belongs to A Wrinkle in Time. Whether you’re a little kid or a grown-up cynical reader, that opening line tells you one thing: get ready!
Madeline L’Engle was a deeply spiritual writer who effortlessly blended her faith with her science fiction. Perhaps her greatest gift to us was the mainstreaming of The Tesseract, or more simply: the wrinkle in time. When Mrs. Who explains the concept to Meg, the latter gets very excited about her newfound comprehension of this awesome spacetime warp: “I got it!” Meg says. “For just a moment I got it! I can’t possibly explain it now, but there for a second, I saw it!” This is how readers of Madeline L’Engle will always feel. We glimpse these beautiful adventures in our mind’s eye, but to fully explain their brilliance is almost impossible.
This post originally ran on November 29, 2012