Madeleine L'Engle

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
/wiki/Madeleine L'Englecreator
Information icon4.svg This page needs visual enhancement.
You can help All The Tropes by finding a high-quality image or video to illustrate the topic of this page.

Madeleine L'Engle (1918 – 2007) was an American writer of Young Adult Literature best-known for A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels.

Most of her novels belong to one of two sequences, referred to as "Kairos" and "Chronos", from the two ancient Greek words for time. "Chronos" refers to chronological or sequential time, while "Kairos" signifies a time in between, a moment of indeterminate time in which something special happens. (Although both sequences contain speculative elements, the Chronos sequence is primarily realistic, while the Kairos sequence, which includes A Wrinkle in Time, is clearly sf/fantasy.)

Works written by Madeleine L'Engle include:


  • First generation (Meg Murry and/or her brothers)
  1. A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
  2. A Wind in the Door (1973)
  3. A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978)
  4. Many Waters (1986)
  • Second generation (the O'Keefe novels, concerning the children of Meg Murry)
  1. The Arm of the Starfish (1965)
  2. Dragons in the Waters (1976)
  3. A House Like a Lotus (1984)
  4. An Acceptable Time (1989) (this one is generally grouped with A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters to form the Time Quintet)


  • Austin family novels
  1. Meet the Austins (1960)
  2. The Moon by Night (1963)
  3. The Young Unicorns (1968)
  4. A Ring of Endless Light (1980)
  5. The Anti-Muffins (1980)
  6. The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas (1984)
  7. Troubling a Star (1994)
  8. A Full House: An Austin Family Christmas (1999)

Other Novels by L'Engle

  • Katherine Forrester series
  1. The Small Rain (1945)
  2. Prelude (1968) (an adaptation of the first half of The Small Rain)
  3. A Severed Wasp (1982) (crossover with the Austin family novels, introducing the characters of Dave Davison and Suzy Austin as adults)
  • Camilla Dickinson series
  1. Camilla Dickinson (1951) (later republished in slightly different form as Camilla [1965])
  2. A Live Coal in the Sea (1996)
  • Standalones
  1. Ilsa (1946)
  2. And Both Were Young (1949) (revised and reissued with new material [1983])
  3. A Winter's Love (1957)
  4. The Love Letters (1966) (revised and reissued as Love Letters [2000])
  5. The Other Side of the Sun (1971)
  6. Certain Women (1992)
  7. The Joys of Love (2008)

Works by Madeleine L'Engle with their own trope pages include:

Madeleine L'Engle provides examples of the following tropes:
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: And no boy is a clearer example than Zachary Grey.
  • Blind Musician: Emily Gregory, a blind genius pianist who first appears in The Young Unicorns.
  • Buy Them Off: The attitude of Zachary Gray's father. If Zachary does anything illegal, harmful or self-destructive, Mr. Gray throws money at people to make them ignore or overlook it.
  • Character Overlap: The Kairos and Chronos sequences are connected by several supporting characters who appear in both, as well as in some of L'Engle's other works.
  • Dreaming the Truth
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Emily Gregory again. Both Vicky Austin and Josiah "Dave" Davidson spend a lot of time talking and thinking about how remarkable she is and how well she's dealing with sudden blindness. The only person who seems to recognize that Emily is often angry and frustrated is her music teacher, Mr. Theo, who refuses to coddle her in any way.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Zachary has a tendency towards attempted suicide through reckless endangerment, but always gets saved at the last minute. He nearly kills himself in a small boat in A Ring of Endless Light; he is rescued, but a friend of the Austin family dies saving him. Later in the same book, he behaves recklessly while driving (nearly hitting an old woman) and almost flies a small plane into a jet; only the quick thinking of his flying instructor prevents a crash that would have killed Zachary, his date Vicky Austin, the instructor, and probably everyone on the airplane. In A House Like a Lotus, he goes out kayaking with Polly O'Keefe, but deliberately ventures into unsafe waters and then overturns the kayak while trying to kiss her. He nearly drowns as a result.
  • It Runs in The Family: The Porcher family in Ilsa suffers from a form of hereditary insanity.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In The Love Letters.
    • Also shows up A Severed Wasp. Justin Vigneras, the composer-musician husband of classical pianist Katherine Forrester, is castrated in a concentration camp during World War II, but insists after the war that Katherine have children with other men to convince people that he's straight and that they are happy together. As a result, she gets pregnant by two different men. An old friend and conductor sires her daughter Julie; her son Michou is the child of the Kommandant of the camp where Justin was castrated and his hands were shattered. Katherine is the only one who knows the identities of both men, however.
  • Sapient Dolphin: Every dolphin in A Ring of Endless Light. L'Engle's dolphins are not only smarter than humans, they're spiritually purer and more innocent as well--unlike actual dolphins, [Somewhere a Mammalogist Is Crying|which have been known to try to rape humans and which will tear a baby shark apart and use the corpse as a volleyball].
  • Sorry, Billy, But You Just Don't Have Legs: Dave Davidson's daughter, Emily, in A Severed Wasp. Emily is an aspiring ballet dancer, and a gifted one--until she's hit by a car and loses one of her legs.
  • Tears of Fear: Charles O'Keefe's tears in The Arm of the Starfish. To quote his sister Polyhymnia (later Polly), "He never cries unless...unless something is awfully...wrong."