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We asked JSTOR Daily readers what books and authors they remembered most from childhood. Here is one of them, plus related content you won’t find anywhere else.

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Even the book titles are fun to read: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Many a reader has found a friend in the off-kilter characters of Madeleine L’Engle’s novels, particularly the brainy siblings Meg and Charles Wallace Murray, who must search across the universe for their disappeared father. But perhaps few know that these books almost never saw the light of day.

In her charming 1981 profile of L’Engle for Language Arts, Leslie A. Samuels writes:

A Wrinkle in Time was almost never published. Several editors saw it and none of them wanted it because the book was neither science fiction nor fantasy; “it was science fiction with a considerable component of fantasy about travel in interstellar space”…When the work was finally accepted, the publisher told L’Engle it would never sell. Little did he know how wrong he was. By the time A Wind in the Door was published, however, the children’s literary field was ready for L’Engle’s style of writing.

Samuels points out that A Wrinkle in Time

introduces L’Engle’s everpresent theme of love conquering evil…As it philosophically considered the problems of good and wickedness, Meg is asked to love not only her friends and family, but her enemies as well; she must do this in order to save Charles Wallace’s life…A Wrinkle in Time shows the need to respect individual differences.

The whole article is full of insights into L’Engle’s work, as well as some interesting biographical facts about the writer herself; download the PDF for free here.


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Language Arts, Vol. 58, No. 6, Language Arts Essentials (September 1981), pp. 704-712
National Council of Teachers of English