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.)