Madeleine L’Engle: 1918-2007

Madeleine L’Engle has passed away at the age of 88. (Hat tip: Lucinda for the article).

One of my favorite quotes on being a grown-up comes from L’Engle, and I’ve seen it reproduced so many times, including in this week’s pages of my agenda:

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.

Thanks for the wonderful stories, ma’am. You’ll be missed.

Update: The NY Times obituary is also online.



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  1. 1
    MLR says:

    I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time in grade school.  It was so different from anything I had ever read before.  It was a brain tilt.  I loved it.

    What a loss for us that she can write no more now.  Sad day.

  2. 2
    RandomRanter says:

    Oh, I am so sad.  She was such a wonderful writer.  I also had to read Wrinkle in grade school, it was one of the first books we were ever assigned as a class, and it rocked.  (It was not until the following year that I would learn that was not always the way.)

  3. 3
    Jepad says:

    What a loss.  Wrinkle in Time was one of the first “assigned” books I had, and what a fantastic novel.  She will be missed.

  4. 4
    iffygenia says:


    I’ll have to re-read A Ring of Endless Light this weekend.

  5. 5
    Acajou says:

    Her voice will surely be missed. Wrinke in Time was one of the first series I glommed on to as a child. I wasnt assigned it in school, rather I had an amazing school librarian who turned me onto L’Engle. I was looking forward to handing the boxset to my kids. A great loss for readers everywhere.

  6. 6
    Krysia says:

    My 8-year-old daughter is in the middle of AWIT now, and loving it as I did and still do. Madeleine L’Engle taught at my old school in NYC; English to the junior and high school students. I always hoped to have her for my teacher, but I believe she left (or retired) before I was ever old enough. I kick myself to this day for not asking her to autograph my book at the time. That was stupid. Or even my yearbook. Think it was 1983? 1984? My old school was affiliated with St. John the Divine in NYC…

    She will be missed.

  7. 7
    Yvonne says:

    I think it was my Mom who turned me on to Madeleine L’Engle, not to mention a good number of other great writers. I agree with the “mind tilt” idea. She was very different in so many ways.

    I’m going to cry now.

  8. 8
    DS says:

    So sorry to hear this. I had just bought a copy of The Other Side of the Sun, a non-YA novel with a Southern gothic flavor.  Now maybe the time to read it.

  9. 9

    Ironic that just yesterday I was thinking about Madeleine L’Engle. When I posted the top 25 challenged books yesterday on my myspace blog, I was surprised to see A WRINKLE IN TIME on it. That was the first “real” book I read. I was in second or third grade. The book was so good I went on to read A SWIFTLY TILTING PLANET and A WIND IN THE DOOR plus many others. I can still remember the covers, an amalgam of wings and clouds, and horses. Since I’ve grown up, I’ve bought those core sci-fi books for many of my neices and nephews and their best friends. In fact, it might be my most purchased kids gift.

    Rest in peace, Ms. L’Engle. Your top notch paranormal romances lit my passion all those years ago and certainly inspired me to write what I write today.

  10. 10
    iffygenia says:

    A Wrinkle In Time will air on ABC TV (in the US) Monday night.

    This NPR article has an interview of L’Engle.

    The filmed version of L’Engle’s story was shown at children’s film festivals in the United States and Canada. In Toronto, it won the award for best feature film.

    NPR’s Susan Stone talks with author Madeleine L’Engle and co-executive producer Catherine Hand, who helped bring the story to the small screen.

    Glad to hear it gets good reviews.  Nothing worse than a bad film version of a favorite children’s book!

  11. 11
    Elizabeth says:

    *quiet tear* Goodbye, Ms L’Engle.  Your books made me feel, if not normal, then that it was cool for me to be abnormal—and that’s how I got through puberty.  No one will ever write something quite like your sci-fi, or the slightly-unsettling-but-warm-and-comforting-like-a-wool-blanket “The Small Rain.”

  12. 12
    Deb says:

    This is a blow every time I read about it.  What a loss for the world of literature.  A Swiftly Tilting Planet remains one of my all-time favorite books.

  13. 13

    Count me in on the AWIT fan club—I really need to reread that book because I remember it just totally blew my mind.

    Look at that life span—1917 to 2007—what a lot of changes she saw!  Makes me wish I’d spoken more with my great-grandmother before she passed away a few years ago, because that’s a wealth of experience few people can still relate.

  14. 14
    AnimeJune says:

    Iffygenia – this filmed version of AWIT, would it be the one with Alfre Woodard? Because one of my most beloved quotations from L’Engle came when someone asked her if that adaptation met her expectations.

    Her response: “It did – I expected it to be awful and it was.” God bless L’Engle.

    That’s the version where they had a Meg without glasses. A Meg without glasses! One of the best things I loved about Meg was that she was described as having mousy hair and glasses, because so did I.

    If they’ve made another filmed version, than I’m really looking forward to it, though.

    My favourite of hers, however, will have to be “Many Waters”, though – an excellent retelling of Noah’s Arc from a pair of modern-day brothers’ perspective!

  15. 15
    iffygenia says:

    AnimeJune, it must be the same film—and I don’t think it’s showing on Monday.

    The email I got said 2007, but the NPR story is dated 2004.  So I think it was a mixup.

  16. 16

    I’m a little late on this, maybe, but one of my favorite quotes from L’Engle about writing:

    “I never write for any age group in mind. When people do, they tend to be tolerant and condescending and they don’t write as well as they can write. When you underestimate your audience, you’re cutting yourself off from your best work.”

    I think you could replace “age” with “genre” in that quote. That’s why I think that authors who think they’re writing “just” a romance are doing the same thing: underestimating their audience and limiting themselves as a writer. But smart bitches know that, of course.

    ANyway. Thank God for Madeleine L’Engle, who brought us Meg Murray O’Keefe—smart bitch ahead of her time—even though the publishing world said that a science fiction book with a GIRL protagonist would never sell.

  17. 17
    Danie says:

    I love series books and paranormal romances.  I think it is unfair to the author and the readers to expect a HEA from books that continues.  Give the series a chance and open your minds to the possible plot twists that take more than one book to cover.

    I don’t know about you but I hate when I can read the first chapter of a book and it is so strictly written to a formula that I can damn near write it myself in my head.  Talk about BORING!!!!! 

    Give me something that will shock me and draw me in and you have a fan for life.  Let the Heroes hook up and break up die and be ressurected.  Give me something new and different then the romance novels my mother read. 

    I want to be taken on a journey and grow to love or hate the charecters which may take more than one book to do.  But the cookie cutter approach that worked in the past (Boy meets girl but there is an opstical they have to overcome to be together which they do and live HEA) is getting a bit stale. 

    I agree that some series fizzle out and leave you lacking a satisfying conclusion but others seem to get better with time.  I think the importnant thing is that the author has a set journey to take you on and delivers you to your much needed HEA in the end. 

    But like all good things it isn’t the end that defines your level of satisfaction it is the journey itself…the build up…the passion…and then the finale!

    I have two authors that in my opinion have great series books (Lilith Saintcrow and L.A. Banks) and I would be heartbroken if thoses had been shortened to deliver a HEA.  I think if you cater to people instead of listening to that inner voice(s) and write the story as it comes to you, you are not honoring your gift and you lose some of the flow. 

    I have seen that happen with other series and other stand alone romances for that matter, there is a turning point where the author stops listening to their inner voice and starts writing formula stories which lose a lot of the appeal that drew me to the author.  An author who can write a good book and deliver an HEA is Beverly Jenkins.  A lot of her books are connected but are also stand alone books. 

    Anyway I am done ranting.  Thanks for listening and writers keep writing and readers keep reading so that we can have these discussions forever!

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