Many of you may have heard Madeline L'Engle died this week, the legendary author of both children's novels and Christian works. This week's Time Machine is dedicated to things you may not know about her John Newbery Award-winning novel A Wrinkle in Time.
She conceived the story idea "during a time of transition" in her life in the Spring of 1959 when on a respite from moving her family back to New York City, she found herself on a ten week camping trip--an expedition where, she explains, "we drove through a world of deserts and buttes and leafless mountains, wholly new and alien to me. And suddenly into my mind came the names, Mrs Whatsit. Mrs Who. Mrs Which." She also had a keen interest in quantum physics at the time, which explains its presence in the story.
After submitting to "forty-odd publishers", L'Engle's agent returned the manuscript to her. Then, at a chance meeting--a tea party thrown for her mother at Christmastime--she met John Ferrar, who was not publishing children's books at the time, but took a chance on A Wrinkle in Time.
When asked why finding a publisher had been so difficult, L'Engle had several theories. Some publishing houses had simply told her it was "too different" and couldn't decide if it was for adults or children. She attributes their reluctance to the heavy themes of dark and evil and the consensus that it might be too difficult for children to relate to. She also believes having a female protagonist in a science fiction book just wasn't done at the time.
According to the New York Times:
"'She once described herself as a French peasant cook who drops a carrot in one pot, a piece of potato in another and an onion and a piece of meat in another.
“At dinnertime, you look and see which pot smells best and pull it forward,” she was quoted as saying in a 2001 book, “Madeleine L’Engle (Herself): Reflections on a Writing Life,” compiled by Carole F. Chase.
“The same is true with writing,” she continued. “There are several pots on my backburners.'"
Known as the Time Quintet, the remainder of titles in the series featuring the Murray family include: A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), Many Waters (1986), and An Acceptable Time (1989).
In May 2007, a new edition of A Wrinkle in Time includes a previously unpublished interview with Madeline L'Engle along with the text of her speech when she accepted the Newbury award.
Oh, and as an aside, if you watch the television show "Lost", Sawyer was caught reading this novel on the beach, sexy-nerd glasses and all. Think the writers are trying to tell us something?
Next week :: More time travel markets and contests...