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Madeleine L'Engle

Born: New York, United States of America

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle won the Newbery Award in 1963 for her book A Wrinkle in Time. She died on September 6, 2007.

"I was born in New York City on a snowy night in November 1918. I lived in New York for the next 12 years. My father, Charles Wadsworth Camp, was a writer, and my mother, Madeleine Hall Barnett Camp, was a pianist, so our house was always full of musicians and theater people. When I was twelve we moved to Europe and I went to a Swiss boarding school. Then, I attended school in South Carolina and went on to Smith College.

After graduating from Smith in 1941, I returned to New York to work in the theater. I wanted to write plays, and I thought the theater was an excellent school for an aspiring playwright. While touring with Uncle Harry, I wrote my first book, The Small Rain, in 1945. During Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, I met the actor Hugh Franklin, and we were married a year later.

Upon becoming Mrs. Franklin, I gave up the stage in favor of the typewriter. In 1952, Hugh decided to retire from the theater “forever.” We moved to an old white farmhouse in northwestern Connecticut and opened a general store. I must admit that participating in the life of a small but active community, running a large farmhouse, and raising three small children were the perfect ways “not” to write a book. But I did manage to write at night. I have written since I could hold a pencil, much less a pen, and writing for me is an essential function, like sleeping and breathing.

A lot of what I learned in our store was of immense value to a writer. Our customers included gypsies, carnival men, farmers, factory workers, artists, and philosophers. I have already published one book written directly out of life there. It's called Meet the Austins, but it could easily be called “Meet the Franklins.”

The store was a smashing success, and then suddenly the fun and challenge were gone. It had also been a long time since I had published anything. So after ten years in Connecticut, we decided to return to New York City. I think we got back just in time. I focused on my writing and finally got A Wrinkle in Time published. I wrote it in Connecticut, but it took me two and a half years to sell it &151 nobody wanted it!

Now, I think I have over 50 books in print, and I'm still writing. As human beings, the closest thing we can get to truth is through story. It's wonderful being able to make a living doing the thing I love the most, which is telling stories."