Madeleine L'Engle was born November 29, 1918, in New York. Her father was a journalist and her mother a pianist. Raised in a creative environment, L'Engle wrote her first stories when she was five. After graduating from Smith College in 1941, she published her first novel, The Small Rain (1945), followed by And Both Were Young (1949). During the 1950s L'Engle virtually stopped writing to concentrate on raising her two children. At one point she decided to give up writing altogether, but found that she was unable to. She felt compelled to write. Soon after resuming her vocation, she wrote A Wrinkle in Time, which became the work for which she is best known. The novel was rejected by twenty-six publishers before it was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1962. It was awarded the prestigious Newbery Medal in 1963, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1965, and was a runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1964. It is one of the best-selling children's books of all time, and was adapted for a four-part mini-series for ABC in 2001.
A Wrinkle in Time forms the first in a quintet of novels called the "Time Fantasy" series. The others are A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978) Many Waters (1986) and An Acceptable Time (1996). All these novels make use of science fiction and fantasy within a framework of love and family. Like many of L'Engle's books, the "Time Fantasy" series has proved popular with adults as well as children.
In addition to her novels, L'Engle has published poems, plays, short stories, an autobiography, and nonfiction books on theology and metaphysics.