Happy Birthday To . . .

Madeleine L’Engle, Louisa May Alcott, and C.S. Lewis, who were all born on November 29. What a day!

Louisa May Alcott (1832), daughter of Transcendentalist philospher Amos Bronson Alcott (also born on November 29), was responsible for many hours of post-bedtime reading by flashlight once I discovered Little Women. My most memorable Christmas gift was a biography of Alcott given to me my my mother and father ostensibly (but probably picked out by my mother) when I was a teenager.  After a life of activism in the temperance and women’s suffrage movements, Louisa May Alcott died of a stroke on March 6, 1988 – two days after her father’s death.

Although the March family will always have a place in my heart, Louisa May Alcott was soon supplanted by Madeleine L’Engle (1918) as my favorite author – a title she holds to this day.  In addition to A Wrinkle in Time and the other titles in her Time Quintet, L’Engle wrote several novels for adults as well as some memoirs. She died on September 6, 2007.  Here’s an interesting fact for fans of the soap opera All My Children:  L’Engle was married to Hugh Franklin, who played Dr. Charles Tyler on that show. They were married for 40 years until Franklin’s death in 1986, and they had three children.

I first read C.S. Lewis (1898) in my early twenties – reading not his Christian apologetics but his Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.  About fifteen years later I read “The Chronicles of Narnia” aloud to my son.  At some point in my twenties I also read The Screwtape Letters.  Lewis died in 1963. He was married to Joy Davidman for four years, until Davidman’s death in 1960.

I don’t keep that many physical books after reading them; I’m not sentimentally attached to most of them and don’t want the clutter – but these three authors are the exception to that rule. I re-read all of their work, and as I write this I like to imagine all three of them standing behind me looking over my shoulder. Happy Birthday.


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