Madeleine L’Engle
Nov. 29, 1918 – Sept. 6, 2007

h1 September 8th, 2007 by eisha

Madeleine L’Engle“I’ll help.” Mrs. Murry squatted at Mrs Whatsit’s feet, yanking on one slick boot. When the boot came off it came suddenly. Mrs. Murry sat down with a thump. Mrs Whatsit went tumbling backward with the chair onto the floor, sandwich held high in one old claw. Water poured out of the boot and ran over the floor and the big braided rug.

“Oh, dearie me,” Mrs Whatsit said, lying on her back in the overturned chair, her feet in the air, one in a red and white striped sock, the other still booted.

Mrs. Murry got to her feet. “Are you all right, Mrs Whatsit?”

“If you have some liniment I’ll put it on my dignity,” Mrs Whatsit said, still supine. “I think it’s sprained. A little oil of cloves mixed well with garlic is rather good.” And she took a large bite of sandwich.

“Do please get up,” Charles said. “I don’t like to see you lying there that way. You’re carrying things too far.” “Have you ever tried to get to your feet with a sprained dignity?” But Mrs Whatsit scrambled up, righted the chair, and then sat back down on the floor, the booted foot stuck out in front of her, and took another bite. She moved with great agility for such an old woman. At least Meg was reasonably sure that she was an old woman, and a very old woman at that.

Mrs Whatsit, her mouth full, ordered Mrs. Murry, “Now pull while I’m already down.”

Quite calmly, as though this old woman and her boots were nothing out of the ordinary, Mrs. Murry pulled until the second boot relinquished the foot. This foot was covered with a blue and gray Argyle sock, and Mrs Whatsit sat there, wriggling her toes, contentedly finishing her sandwich before scrambling to her feet. “Ah,” she said, “that’s ever so much better,” and took both boots and shook them out over the sink. “My stomach is full and I’m warm inside and out and it’s time I went home.”

“Don’t you think you’d better stay till morning?” Mrs. Murry asked.

“Oh, thank you, dearie, but there’s so much to do I just can’t waste time sitting around frivoling.”

“It’s much too wild a night to travel in.”

“Wild nights are my glory,” Mrs Whatsit said. “I just got caught in a down draft and blown off course.”

“Well, at least till your socks are dry–”

“Wet socks don’t bother me. I just didn’t like the water squishing around in my boots. Now don’t worry about me, lamb.” (Lamb was not a word one would ordinarily think of calling Mrs. Murry.) “I shall just sit down for a moment and pop on my boots and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

Mrs. Murry went very white and with one hand reached backward and clutched at a chair for support. Her voice trembled. “What did you say?”

Mrs Whatsit tugged at her second boot. “I said,” she grunted, shoving her foot down in, “that there is”– shove–“such a thing”–shove–“as a tesseract.” Her foot went down into the boot, and grabbing shawls, scarves, and hat, she hustled out the door.

* * *
A Wrinkle in Time, 1962.

This book changed my life. Thanks, Ms. L’Engle. Rest in peace.

5 comments to “Madeleine L’Engle
Nov. 29, 1918 – Sept. 6, 2007”

  1. Sixth grade, standing in the library of my elementary school, my friend Lisa Hoff (now an ER doc and mother of 4) hands me a book and says “You will love this”. And I did.

    Meg Murray owns a piece of my heart. I’m glad that Ms. L’Engle had such a long rich life; I just wish she hadn’t spent so many years without her husband and son.

    Rest in peace indeed.

  2. That’s awesome. I don’t even remember how I stumbled across it – must have been either Scholastic Book Club or the school library. But yeah, I think most of us who love the books love them because we see ourselves in Meg – awkward, misunderstood, but just needing the right set of circumstances to come into our own.

  3. Nice, Eisha.

    I just found this (and was going to include it in our post for tomorrow) — “‘Of course I’m Meg,’ Ms. L’Engle said about the beloved protagonist of ‘A Wrinkle in Time.'”

    I add my rest-in-peace to the honorable Ms. L’Engle.

  4. I posted about her life (and death) yesterday. I so loved A Wrinkle in Time, and the Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which characters. Thanks for the quote — I may have to re-read now.

  5. […] Madeleine L’EngleNov. 29, 1918 – Sept. 6, 2007 September 8th, 2007 &nbsp&nbsp by eisha […]

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact Thanks.