Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Remembering Madeleine L'Engle

As the Newbery Medal-winning author of A Wrinkle in Time (1962) and of the bestselling adult memoir A Circle of Quiet (1972), Madeleine L’Engle catapulted from obscurity to become one of America’s best-known writers and most outspoken literary presences. L’Engle, it seemed, who died in 2007, always had some new book on offer, and a frenetic touring schedule that on any given day might place her before a banquet gathering of hundreds of librarians, a volunteer workshop for inner-city teens, or the assembled worshippers of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. L’Engle served as president of the Authors Guild (1985–86) and as the Cathedral’s longtime librarian, and was equally at home speaking out on TV for freedom of expression and leading a weekend silent retreat at a Hudson River Valley monastery. A tortuous and at times tortured family life was partly responsible for her seeming compulsion to remain in perpetual motion. But so too was an article of faith she lived by: the belief that everyone had a story to tell, and that it was her calling to encourage others to tell theirs, even as she – with help from the editors and staff at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Dell – set down her own quicksilver stories in book after book for all to know.

The following excerpt from Listening for Madeleine (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov.) focuses on a few of L’Engle’s key publishing relationships. Other interviews in this wide-ranging book examine her childhood years and many-sided later life as a mentor, matriarch, devoted friend, and cultural lightning rod.

Read it at PW

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