Back St. John the Divine and LOA celebrate Madeleine L’Engle’s 100th birthday with words and music

Madeleine L’Engle’s centenary received a fitting commemoration in New York City last month when the Cathedral of St. John the Divine held a public tribute, “Believing Takes Practice: Celebrating 100 Years of Madeleine L’Engle.”

The October 18 event recognized an association of nearly forty years’ standing. The relationship began in the mid-1960s when, looking for a quiet place to write, the author of A Wrinkle in Time asked for and received permission to work in the Cathedral Library. L’Engle’s involvement with the Cathedral led to her being named both Librarian and Writer in Residence and ended only when her health began to falter late in life. Her ashes are interred in the Cathedral Columbarium and the library where she wrote has been officially renamed the Madeleine L’Engle Library.

“Believing Takes Practice” featured both music and talks in the writer’s honor. Baritone Peter Stewart and pianist Raymond Nagem performed a selection of music mentioned in L’Engle’s books, after which Leonard S. Marcus, the editor of Library of America’s new two-volume edition Madeleine L’Engle: The Kairos Novels, joined LOA Associate Editor Stefanie Peters for a discussion of the importance of L’Engle’s writing.

Perhaps most appropriately, students from the Cathedral School who recently discovered A Wrinkle in Time shared their favorite passages from the book—further proof, as if any were needed, that L’Engle’s imaginary worlds continue to enthrall readers of every age a century after her birth.

(Photos © Elizabeth Oswald and Colin Murray)

The Reverend Canon Patrick Malloy welcomed attendees to the event at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on October 18, 2018.
Library of America Associate Editor Stefanie Peters and Leonard S. Marcus at the centennial event.
Baritone Peter Stewart and pianist Raymond Nagem performed a selection of L’Engle’s favorite pieces.
L to R: Head of the Cathedral School Marsha Nelson; students Avery Pflueger and Cristina Toro; and Library of America President and Publisher Max Rudin.
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