Listening for Madeleine A Portrait of Madeleine L'Engle in Many Voices

Leonard S. Marcus

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

382 Pages



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Madeleine L'Engle is perhaps best recognized as the author of A Wrinkle in Time, the enduring milestone work of fantasy fiction that won the 1963 John Newbery Medal for excellence in children's literature and has enthralled millions of readers for the past fifty years. But to those who knew her well, L'Engle was much more besides: a larger-than-life persona, an inspiring mentor, a strong-willed matriarch, a spiritual guide, and a rare friend. In Listening for Madeleine, the renowned literary historian and biographer Leonard S. Marcus reveals Madeleine L'Engle in all her complexity, through a series of incisive interviews with the people who knew her most intimately. Vivid reminiscences of family members, colleagues, and friends create a kaleidoscope of keen insights and snapshop moments that help readers to understand the many sides of this singularly fascinating woman.


Praise for Listening for Madeleine

"Mr. Marcus's immensely readable and fascinating book will . . . stand as the definitive portraity of Madeleine L'Engle." —James Kennedy, The Wall Street Journal

"Though we never met, Madeleine L'Engle has been a close friend for years—for decades. Her story is presented here in the recollections of fifty comrades, and I gladly pull up a chair to listen in."—Margaret Edson, author of Wit

"The book has the feel of a Festschrift—a celebratory volume in honor of one of Farrar, Straus & Giroux's most beloved writers."—Ruth Franklin, Bookforum

"That [L'Engle] was clearly a complex and fascinating person makes this a fascinating book and an excellent introduction to both L'Engle and her work."—Michael Cart, Booklist

"Insightful . . . Impressionistic and satisfyingly complex." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt


Mary "Sister" L'Engle Avent was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. She and Madeleine L'Engle were cousins.
Q: How did you meet Madeleine L'Engle?
A: Her grandmother Caroline Hallowes...

Read the full excerpt


  • Leonard S. Marcus

  • Leonard S. Marcus is one of the world's leading writers about children's books and the people who create them. His own award-winning books include Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom; Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children's Literature; and The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.