Farrar, Straus and Giroux is pleased to announce that internationally acclaimed author Madeleine L’Engle is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, which was conferred by President George W. Bush in a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday, November 17, 2004. Charlotte Jones, Ms. L’Engle’s granddaughter, accepted the Medal on her behalf. Madeleine L’Engle was cited “for her talent as a writer on spirituality and art and for her wonderful novels for young people. Her works inspire the imagination and reflect the creative spirit of America.” The National Humanities Medal is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). According to the NEH Web site (www.neh.gov), “The National Humanities Medal, inaugurated in 1997, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.” Further information is available on the White House Web site, http://www.whitehouse.gov.
Born November 29, 1918, Madeleine L’Engle grew up in New York City, Switzerland, South Carolina, and Massachusetts. Her father was a reporter and her mother had studied to be a pianist, so their house was always full of musicians and theater people. After graduating cum laude from Smith College in 1941, she returned to New York to work in the theater, thinking it an excellent school for an aspiring playwright. While touring with Eva Le Gallienne and Joseph Schildkraut in Uncle Harry, Ms. L’Engle wrote her first book, The Small Rain (originally published in 1945 and reissued in 1984). She met her future husband, Hugh Franklin, when they both appeared in The Cherry Orchard with Miss Le Gallienne, and they were married on tour during the run of The Joyous Season starring Ethel Barrymore.
Madeleine L’Engle’s science fantasy classic A Wrinkle in Time, now in its sixty-seventh printing, was awarded the 1963 Newbery Medal for “the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature” published in the previous year. The film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time aired on ABC television this past year and the DVD was released on November 16. Two companion novels, A Wind in the Door (1973) and A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), complete what has come to be known as The Time Trilogy, which continues to grow in popularity with each new generation of readers. Troubling a Star (1994) continues the story of Vicki Austin, the budding teenage poet in A Ring of Endless Light (1980), which was a Newbery Honor Book. Kirkus Reviews has declared Ms. L’Engle “a master,” and in a 2004 profile in The New Yorker, Cynthia Zarin observed that, “more than most writers, L’Engle has engaged with her readers.”