Study Guide

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

ph_0111226265-Lengle.jpgMadeleine L’Engle Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Madeleine L’Engle Camp was born in New York City on November 29, 1918. Her mother, Madeleine Barnett Camp, was a pianist who, although talented, chose not to become a concert pianist and to stay at home with her family. L’Engle’s father, Charles Wadsworth Camp, was a foreign correspondent whose lungs were damaged by exposure to poison mustard gas during World War I. L’Engle had a younger brother who died as an infant. Her subsequent childhood was somewhat secluded from other children, as she spent much of her time writing short stories, poems, and journals rather than concentrating on her schoolwork.

As her father’s condition worsened, her family decided to move to Europe, where the air would be easier on her father’s lungs and he would be less susceptible to diseases such as pneumonia. In 1930, at twelve years of age, L’Engle relocated across the Atlantic Ocean to Switzerland, where her family rented a chateau and she entered a Swiss boarding school.

However, at age fourteen, because of her parents’ declining health, L’Engle was sent back to the United States to attend high school in Florida and live with her grandmother. She did not adapt to life in Florida schools and was sent to a girls’ boarding school in Charleston, South Carolina, to finish her high school diploma. Once at the boarding school she acted in plays and worked for the school’s literary magazine as a writer and editor. As she was finishing her final year at school, her father passed away.

In 1941, L’Engle graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she received her B.A. in English and continued her own creative writing. After graduation, instead of returning to the South, where her family lived, she moved to New York City and shared an apartment in Greenwich Village with two aspiring actresses. She attended the New School for Social Research in New York City from 1941 to 1942. Through luck and perseverance she acquired a job working in theater in 1941 and spent the subsequent seven years living on her union pay and writing in her spare time. Her first novel, The Small...

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Madeleine L'Engle Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

In the series of books referred to as the Time Quartet, L’Engle skillfully blends themes of adolescent discovery of self with religious questions of the incarnation and battle of good versus evil to create a fiction with which young readers can identify and through which they are forced to stretch their imaginations.

Madeleine L'Engle Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Madeleine L’Engle (lehng-EHL) became known as one of the most popular children’s authors in twentieth century America. By her own count she published more than forty novels, plays, and collections of poetry, but she probably became best known for her award-winning children’s book A Wrinkle in Time.

Madeleine Camp was the only child of the journalist and playwright John Wadsworth Camp and the pianist Madeleine Camp, both of whom were older parents. When she became a writer, she used her mother’s maiden name, L’Engle, to avoid any favoritism from her father’s acquaintances in the publishing world. The child was frequently left to the care of her nanny so that they could participate in the cultural life of New York. In 1931 the family moved to the French Alps for the sake of her father, whose lungs had been severely damaged by mustard gas during World War I. L’Engle was sent to boarding school in Switzerland. She did not have much privacy there and consequently learned to ignore distractions around her while writing in the journals she had begun at the age of eight.

When L’Engle’s grandmother became ill the family returned to the United States, and L’Engle was enrolled in boarding school in South Carolina. During her senior year her father died of pneumonia. L’Engle continued her education at Smith College, where she won several literary awards and enthusiastically participated in the drama program. After graduating with honors she returned to New York and found employment in and around Broadway; she took any small acting part or understudy position whenever it was offered.

The summer after taking part in her first out-of-town tour, L’Engle completed her first novel, The Small Rain; upon publication the work met with critical acclaim. It was while writing this book—about a youthful heroine who plays the piano and must cope with the death of a parent—that L’Engle first allowed herself to mourn the death of her father.

On her next acting tour she met Hugh Franklin, a handsome young actor who soon became her husband and lifelong companion. In Two Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage...

(The entire section is 894 words.)

Madeleine L'Engle Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Madeleine Camp L'Engle was born on November 29, 1918, in New York City. The only child of a foreign correspondent, L'Engle early on developed...

(The entire section is 279 words.)

Madeleine L'Engle Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Madeleine L'Engle was born on November 29, 1918 to Charles Wadsworth Camp, a foreign correspondent, and Madeleine Barnett Camp, a talented...

(The entire section is 268 words.)

Madeleine L'Engle Biography

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Cover for an edition of A Wrinkle in Time

Introduction

Madeleine L’Engle was once called stupid by some of her teachers, but she proved them wrong when she went on to author many popular books for young adults. Richly imaginative, her science fiction tales are not just fantasy. She strove to include in her work many concepts that exist in modern science. L’Engle wrote a great deal of nonfiction in addition to her fictional novels. She often blended fiction and memoir, adding many events from her real life into her stories. L’Engle believed that religion, science, and magic were simply different parts of the same reality. Her most well-known works are A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters.

Essential Facts

  1. L’Engle wrote more than 40 novels, plays, and collections of poetry.
  2. Wheaton College in Illinois has a Madeleine L’Engle collection that includes manuscripts, interviews, and photos.
  3. L’Engle volunteered as a librarian at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and was later writer-in-residence there.
  4. L’Engle visited Antarctica in 1992 at the age of 74. This was a particularly remarkable feat because she had been injured in a serious car accident just a year earlier.
  5. L’Engle won the prestigious Newbery award in 1963 for A Wrinkle in Time.

Madeleine L'Engle Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Madeleine L'Engle was born on November 29, 1918, in New York City. The only child of a well-known journalist and a pianist, she had an...

(The entire section is 349 words.)