A Wrinkle in Time

30 Mar 2018

Science fiction authors have entertained thousands of readers for the better part of the 20th century. Madeleine L’Engle authored many science fiction books for young adults. One of her most famous novels was A Wrinkle in Time. Read on to learn more about Madeleine L’Engle and her novels.

Madeleine L’Engle was an American born author born in New York City in 1918. Her father, also an author, inspired her to write at an early age. By the age of 5 she had written her first story and by the age of 27 had published her first novel, Small Rain.

Writer’s Block

Although Madeleine had published a novel at 27 she struggled for years to have several of her other novels published. When writers struggle with their writing it is often referred to as writer’s block. In her 30’s her frustration reached the point where she began to think about giving up on writing. She married at 28 and had two children with actor Hugh Franklin. After moving away from New York City, they settled in Connecticut and ran a small general store. Seven years later they moved back to New York City, but before they did, they drove across the country. It was this trip that inspired A Wrinkle in Time. 

Einstein’s Quantum Physics

In an interview with Scholastic Books, Madeleine L’Engle spoke about what inspired her novel.

“It was my discovery of particle physics and quantum mechanics. I’d always been very bad at arithmetic, but this was beyond arithmetic – this was exciting. In 1942, I started reading Einstein.” 

After learning about quantum mechanics she included the theory of space travel using the term, Tesseract. It may sound like a term made up for a story, but it is a real concept.


In geometry, the tesseract is the four-dimensional cube. In order for us to understand how a tesseract works we need to have Carl Sagan explain to us the basics of dimension in this short video.

It was with the knowledge of additional dimensions that Madeleine developed time travel in her novel. Her protagonist, Meg, must use a tesseract to travel through time and space to find her father. A Wrinkle in Time broke her writer’s block.

A Wrinkle in Time

Although her novel was rejected over two dozen times, Madeleine eventually found success. Bookstores were not sure where to shelve her book because it covered several genres. It was fiction, but science fiction, fantasy, and young adult combined into one. The book was also banned in some Christian schools because of its open-minded view of God’s forgiveness toward man. Similarly, people believed that it contained witchcraft. When Madeleine read these reports and heard these comments it made her instantly angry. Eventually, she put those comments behind her and dismissed their insults. She said most of the people that had negative comments never bothered to read the book.

Madeleine went on to write a series of books based on the A Wrinkle in Time for 30 years. Astronaut Janice Voss commented that this book inspired her toward becoming an astronaut. When children ask her why she wanted to travel into space she cites A Wrinkle in Time as her inspiration.

This year, Disney has produced a movie based on the book. My advice, read the book, and then go and see the movie. Books always provide more detail and with this particular book, it will capture your imagination.