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Tribute To Madeleine L'Engle Writer Actress Teacher 1918-2007

Updated on November 23, 2015

Dear Madeline,

You have been encouraging me since the fall of 1966. Meet the Austin's was the first book of yours I read. Vickie Austin and I could have been the same girl, We were same age, tall and gangly, I felt ugly and like I didn't fit anywhere. Losing myself in your books helped me navigate though adolescence and into a confident, loving women.

As I grew so did the characters in your books. When you wrote The Summer of the Great Grandmother you helped me navigate through my mothers death.

I understand you were not perfect. You mixed your family sometimes a bit too realistically into the characters of your novels. Knowing you did that taught me to protect family's privacy. Never sacrifice family confidences even for literary advantage.

Thank you so much.



Writers Make A Tremendous Impact On Children

Madeleine L'Engle made a tremendous impact on my life. She fueled my desire for travel as I traveled the world In The Arm Of The Starfish. She showed me what you are as a child is not what you will be later. (Meet The Austin's) Vicki Austin, tall, gangly and never knowing the correct thing to say was me exactly. The Murray family stimulated my love of science( A Wrinkle In Time). Her love of questions stimulated my desire to go beyond myself to ask questions.

My writing was inspired by Madeleine L'Engle.

Somewhere I read Madeleine would write descriptions of hotel rooms and places she visited to enable her to have an actual places she could envision her characters. I have tried to do that as well. When writing fiction, having actual locations in mind allow you to drop your characters into believable places, which will save you time.

September 1966

In 1966 classes still went to the library; there were still librarians. Librarians were the people full of facts and ideas. They could tell you everything you wanted to know, or where to find what you needed. In 1966 as a seventh grader at King Junior High in Oakland, California; I was introduced to, a great writer, Madeleine L'Engle..

I can still hear Mrs Schmidt the librarian as she began to read,

"It was a nice normal noisy evening."

Her voice made the alliteration bounce merrily along. These words from Meet the Austins, the first of Madeline L'Engle's books in the Austin Chronicles, lead me to read everything thing she wrote. I grew up with the Austins.

Madeleine L'Engle wrote the five Austin novels over a period of thirty years. In 1966 Meet the Austins was a New Berry Award winner, librarians were introducing to their pupils. In 1966 as a skinny, straggly haired girl, Vicki in Meet the Austin's and I met. Every Friday, I would carry as many books as I could home, so that I could go on adventure after adventure over the weekend. Many of those weekends were spent with Madeleine's characters.

Meet The Austins

Treasured copy of Meet the Austins from my library.
Treasured copy of Meet the Austins from my library. | Source

Madeleine L'Engle wasn't always a Newbery Medal winner. Her first novel A Small Rain was published. Her second novel a Wrinkle In Time was written and sent from publisher to publisher receiving rejection notices for ten years. Published in 1965 Wrinkle was awarded a Newbery Medal.

Because she didn't give up on Wrinkle In Time I learned writing wasn't easy. Imagine 10 years of rejection. Once you have slaved over a piece getting published is hard work, you can't give up.

September 2007, she was gone. The amazing thing about a writer is they live on through their works. Years ago I heard someone describe Madeleine L'Engle as a master at themes. Setting out to see if that was true I was amazed how characters from one book or another showed up unexpectedly in whatever book I was reading. Her themes of hospitality and order show up in many of her stories. Even in her book The Summer Of The Great Grandmother, there is order and grace as she watches her mother, fail in body and memory. She always wrote as though she knew the characters. In many instances she did know her characters; Many of her characters were fashioned after people she knew, the way she wanted them to be, not necessarily the way they truly were..

In a tribute to their grandmother Madeleine's granddaughters wrote that grandmother incorporated every member of the family into her writing, She incorporated family members characteristics and mannerism into her characters. In the Summer Of The Great Grandmother, L'Engle herself said she while she used mannerisms and personalities from people she knew, she never could write about her father, there was too much emotion to write about him.


I have a unique religious background. The dialogue about death in Meet the Austins showed me that faith needed to be explored and embraced. I am almost embarrassed that a writer could have such effect on me. Then I learned that was why writers write. If they don't created a reason for someone to react to there work what is the point in writing.

Hugh Franklin

Madeline L'Engle was married to an actor Hugh Franklin. They met and married while acting in a production of The Cherry Orchard. Hugh Franklin played Dr, Charles Tyler in All My Children. Madeline and Hugh were married forty years. I do believe Ms L'Engle helped form my ideas about marriage. I will have been married forty years to the same man in 2016.

Madeleine L'Engle was the writer that enthralled a thirteen year old girl and nurtured her when she didn't feel nurtured. Looking at my relationship with Madeleine L'Engle has shown me the responsibility a writer must take for her writing. Readers fall in love with characters, and stories. The stories I could tell about how I mimicked Madeline L'Engle's characters would make me blush. Madeline L'Engle is still influencing me as an author. She has set the bar high; I aspire to be like her as an author and woman who opened her home to all that were in need..

Thank You Madeleine.

Recently Published Book About Madeleine L'Engle

A new book about Madeleine L'Engle has just been published; Listening for Madeleine written by Leonard Marcus (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) looks to be a read for someone who wants to hear from her family and friends what they thought about her.


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Thanks James. She was indeed a good influence.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

      Fascinating! I must confess I have not heard of this lady but what a talent! And what a good influence she has been on you and others. Awesome! Thank you for a good read.


    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      healingsword, Madeleine L'Engle was a wonderful role model for me . Thanks for visiting.

    • healingsword profile image

      Ann Wehrman 5 years ago from California

      Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time series and various other of her books inspired me when I was growing up to believe in spiritual romantic love, spiritual connection and love between family members, the possibility of gifted nerds finding happiness, and hope that good will someday triumph. What a role model for a female writer! Thanks for this memorial Hub.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Just revisited some of her books and still like the way she writes. Thanks for visiting. Happy New Year!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a lovely tribute. I have not heard of this authour before but it sounds like her books would be quite engaging. Thanks for posting.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      I hope you will like Ms L'Engle's books. A writer friend of mine has recently read A Wrinkle In Time and didn't like it. I take no offense if you don't like her style. Some of her writing I like better than others. It took me a second read, years later, to like Wrinkle.

      Bless you for your kindness in sharing and voting.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Up, Useful, Interesting, and shared with followers and on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

      I hadn't heard of Madeleine L'Engle before. Now I can hardly wait to read something by her.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      epigramman- Thank you for visiting. Ontario is one of my favorite places to visit.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      ....I was very intrigued by your title as I had never heard of this lady before but now I have learnt something new thanks to you which is the whole idea of a passionate hub tribute like this I would imagine - and the experience of reading your 'labor of love' is enhanced by your warmth, dedication and sincerity - hubbravo to you - and warm wishes and good thoughts sent to you from lake erie time ontario canada 3:22am

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      My son is in an Academically Gifted program and they studied A Wrinkle in Time last year. He also fell in love with Ms. L'Engle. Her books have a "magic" that sparks a love of reading. I love the idea she used to record real places so she had them to use later. I am going to a retreat at the North Carolina Outer Banks soon. I will record every detail. Thanks for the information about this lovely lady and her gifts.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      whowas, delightful of you to stop in. Yes the list of books is long and the time short. Madeline us always a good choice.

    • profile image

      whowas 5 years ago

      'A Wrinkle in Time' is the only book of hers that I have read but it has remained with me, too, as a significant inspiration. Thank you for sharing this beautiful and fascinating tribute to a remarkable woman and author.

      I will now have to add her other work to my very long list of books yet to be read but having read this hub I am certain that she deserves a place.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      phast7 and Kathleen, So glad to hear from you. I believe truly amazing people are those who finish strong. Madeline finished strong.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      She was my daughter's favorite writer when Amber was growing up. Well done tribute.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great tribute to a wonderful author and marvelous human being. I was introduced to her work at nineteen, so I read everything she wrote, fiction, fantasy, spiritual journeys, adult novels -- Except for the Austins series.

      And I have read and re-read her books over the past three decades and given innumerable copies to my family members and friends. She has been a part of my life and my thinking and I think always will be. Thank you for a lovely article about her. I hope many others will be encouraged and pick up one or tow of her books. Blessings. Sharing.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      John, Greetings. Thanks for the comment. Completely agree with you about that area. If you could just get radio reception down there I would like it much better. My sons car blew an engine in Barstow in January. We found one of the best geo caches of last summer in Kingman AZ.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi tirelesstraveler, and what a great hub this one is. I believe in much of what you've said. I travel out of the city for short trips just to get inspiration to write. I love the open road! The border of California, Arizona, and Nevada are quite scenic.

      Great tribute to this teacher of yours!


    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      mizjo, When people have read the same things you have they feel like family. Welcome to the family

      Velur, As always it is a delight to hear from you. Thanks for stopping.

      robie2, I haven't ever seen some of ML works on from that site. Looks like I can just keep enjoying her work. Thanks for the information

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Tirelesstraveler, I loved all the Murray family books I've read. And I really took Charles to my heart. He is such a little sweetheart.

      Madeline L'Engle's science fiction has a very loving quality to it that is so pure and beautiful.

      I haven't read any of the Austin family books, as I hadn't heard of them till now.

      I read your hub with great interest, as I had never read anything about Madeline L'Engle except the barest bit of author information in the frontispiece. Thanks.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Awesome hub about Madeline L'Engle. Enjoyed reading.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Your story here got me to thinking- by gosh there were libraries with real librarians back in elementary school! they would help you choose books to read and stuff. Delightful finding out about Ms L'Engle and the impact the Austins' series had on your journey through life... is it all right to call you by your first name? if you'd prefer the HP handle that's fine so don't fret.:)

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      robie2, Thank you so much for the link. I had never seen some of those works. Thank you for stopping.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 6 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Madeleine L'Engle is such a multi-faceted writer -- her non fiction books on writing and her personal spiritual journey are as amazing as her fiction. Hers was an amazing life. Here's a link to her non fiction as well Thanks for reminding me of her tireless traveler.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      Vinaya, If you like science fiction a "Winkle In Time "or "A Wind Through the Door" would be a good place to start. Thank you for stopping.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Never heard about Madaline L'Engle or read her. However, I found her bio very inspiring.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      ae- Thanks for stopping . You are exactly the kind of reader I was hoping for. I am always looking for authors who write quality books. She is very definitely worth looking into.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I'm afraid I am unfamiliar with L' Engle, but I enjoyed your article. Thank's for sharing..Best Wishes..

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Being motivated as a girl really does stick with you. What a great role model for you.

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 6 years ago from Illinois

      I love Madeline L'Engle! A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books as a child, giving me a lifelong love of science fiction and the belief that a girl can do anything.


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