10 Things You Likely Never Knew About ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

The science fiction tale is now on the big screen thanks to the power of Disney — but the book had a long, arduous road to success

“A Wrinkle in Time” may be in theaters today, but did you know the science fantasy film is based on a 1962 novel of the same name?

Madeline L’Engle wrote the book 56 years ago, and it won the Newbery Medal in 1963 — a high honor given once a year to an author for distinguished contribution to children’s literature. Her work was a mega-success, selling millions of copies across the globe, and it continues to influence readers.

Here are 10 facts you likely never knew about the classic novel “A Wrinkle in Time.”

1.) The book was rejected 26 times. If L’Engle had not been incredibly persistent, then readers never would have heard of her book. She pitched the novel to 26 different publishers before Farrar, Straus & Giroux gave her a chance. One reason many others rejected the book is because its audience was so difficult to pin down. They didn’t know if the planet-hopping story was a book for children or for adults — and whether it was a fantasy or a fiction book.

2.) The book is based on the author’s early years. In past interviews, L’Engle (who died in 2007) said she based her protagonist, Meg Murry — who is on a galactic quest to find her missing father — on her own childhood self. Born in New York City, L’Engle said she grew up poor, was socially awkward, and was unhappy with her appearance. Her family traveled frequently and she attended various boarding schools, including one in Switzerland for a time. L’Engle might not have been happy with her young life — but it certainly paid off for her as an adult.

3.) It is part of a series of novels. Sure, “A Wrinkle in Time” is the most popular of L’Engle’s works, but it was only the start of the adventures of Meg Murry — played by Storm Reid in the film. The series is known as the “Time Quintet” because there are five novels in all published over the course of nearly 30 years (1962-1989).

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4.) The book has been banned … a lot. Two factions of people have banned the book over time: religious and nonreligious groups. Controversy stems from the novel’s mix of religious and scientific concepts.

The American Library Association reports that people still haven’t gotten over the concept. It was the 90th most banned book of the 2000s.

5.) It inspired an astronaut. Think “A Wrinkle in Time” was just a popular reading selection for kids? Think again.

The novel inspired a young Janice Voss, who is today an American astronaut, to pursue a career in her field. Voss even once asked L’Engle if she could take a signed copy of the book into space.

6.) It earned L’Engle recognition on another planet. Madeline L’Engle may have passed away in 2007, but her name and legacy will live on. In 2013, six years after her death, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) honored L’Engle for her work on the book. They also named a crater on Mercury’s South Pole “L’Engle.”

7.) L’Engle didn’t know how to categorize the book. Many publishers did not know how to market “A Wrinkle in Time,” but the truth is, neither did L’Engle. She said in various interviews throughout her lifetime that she didn’t have a particular audience in mind when writing or selling her book, and that she felt it could be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

She thought the fantasy aspect of the book was appealing for children’s imaginations — and that the science and religion would also appeal to adults.

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8.) L’Engle learned to love the controversy. Not everyone was a fan of L’Engle’s book — hence the censorship and rejections. However, controversy surrounding the novel may have been more of a positive in the long run.

In 2001, L’Engle told The New York Times, “It seems people are willing to damn the book without reading it. Nonsense about witchcraft and fantasy. First I felt horror, then anger, and finally I said, ‘Ah, the hell with it.’ It’s great publicity, really.”

9.) It was written on a camping trip. L’Engle’s writing career did not get off to a great start. In fact, she considered quitting about when she turned 40. However, she went on a cross-country camping trip and was inspired to write, she explained, by the terrain she witnessed. This country’s enormous variety gave her the idea to combine genres and concepts for what would end up being a hugely successful and original novel.

10.) L’Engle was inspired by Einstein. Growing up, L’Engle was not an excellent student or savvy in math. In her adulthood, though, she became interested in the cosmos and nonlinear time when she read a book about Albert Einstein.

Her interest in science only grew as time progressed, so much so that she said it was connected to her writing. As she wrote in her book “A Circle of Quiet,” “One cannot discuss structure in writing without discussing structure in all life.”

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets. 

Tom Joyce
meet the author

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.

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