If you are of a certain age, you remember it well: The creepy, haunting, downright iconic—and totally weird—cover of the 1976 Dell edition of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.
But while many of us remember being scared by (and/or fascinated with) this image, there’s an unexpected mystery behind it: No one seems to know who the artist is.
Artist Michael Whelan posed the question to Twitter:
Looking for help solving a mystery of who illustrated this cover for A WRINKLE IN TIME (Dell, Laurel Leaf 1976).
The art is uncredited in the book. The link details where breadcrumbs have led so far:https://t.co/MCwfvXscOG pic.twitter.com/NwjrRu5cfZ
— Michael Whelan (@whelanmichael) May 25, 2023
The blog post Whelan points to is by author S. Elizabeth, who has done an impressive amount of digging—everything from a simple reverse image search to reaching out to an assortment of sources. As she mentions, even the Internet Science Fiction Database does not have the answer—though it does note the mystery. Between Elizabeth’s queries and the commenters, it’s been determined that the image is not by Charles Lilly, The Brothers Hildebrandt, Boris Vallejo, Enric Torres-Prat, or Manuel Sanjulain.
Elizabeth tweeted the question at the Madeleine L’Engle Twitter account, which is run by the author’s granddaughter, but she didn’t know either:
— Madeleine L'Engle (@MadeleineLEngle) May 10, 2023
She also started a conversation in the Unresolved Mysteries subreddit, resulting in a fascinating rabbit hole of suggestions.
We’ve started asking publishing colleagues and friends, but so far have no answers. But someone must know who created this armless centaur who haunted the dreams of an entire generation.