Listening for Madeleine

A Portrait of Madeleine L'Engle in Many Voices

Leonard S. Marcus

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Writer. Matriarch. Mentor. Friend. Icon.

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.


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 L’Engle Barnett was my aunt—the sister of my father, Camillus Saunders L’Engle. Madeleine was two years older than me and about six years old when I first knew her. She and her parents would occasionally come down to Jacksonville, Florida, from New York by train. They would come to visit her grandfather


Praise for Listening for Madeleine

"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

In the Press

This book is the closest you'll ever get to hanging out with Madeleine L'Engle
For many of us, one of our first speculative fiction love affairs was with Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time. Her warm, emotional approach to time travel and other science fiction ideas helped set the scene for today's YA science fiction boom, and she made tesseracts a household word.
- io9
Cara Parks Reviews Leonard S. Marcus's ""Listening For Madeleine: A Portrait Of Madeleine L'Engle In Many Voices"" | The New Republic
Bi-weekly magazine and website covering politics, arts, culture, and society since 1914.
- The New Republic
Work in Progress » Blog Archive » Leonard Marcus on Madeleine L'Engle
On Thursday, Nov. 29, which would have been Madeleine L'Engle's 94th birthday, the Diocesan House of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on New York City's Upper West Side was dedicated as a Literary Landmark in honor of the nearly four decades that she wrote and worked in its library.
- FSG's Work in Progress

Reviews from Goodreads



  • 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.
  • Leonard S. Marcus © Elena Seibert


Available Formats and Book Details

Listening for Madeleine

A Portrait of Madeleine L'Engle in Many Voices

Leonard S. Marcus