A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Any story that begins with “it was a dark and stormy night” promises to be a page-turner!

Today on November 29, 1918, Madeleine L’Engle was born. I first met her the day I picked up her book, “A Wrinkle in Time.” I was eight years old. This book changed the way I viewed our planet and the universe. We were not alone. There was a possibility that life came in many forms.

In my first reading of “A Wrinkle in TIme”, I was unaware of the controversary that surrounded the themes of religion and science. Some thought it was too religious and others thought it promoted new ageism. Both sides missed the point of the narrative that spoke of the universal truths of courage, hope, endurance, faith and love.

A Wrinkle in Time is now a beloved favorite. It confirms the important truths that love, hope, and faith are enduring. The story follows young Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and friend, Calvin O’Keefe, when they embark on a perilous mission to save Meg and Charles’s father. The danger is real, one that threatens their lives and the entire universe. 

They travel through time and space with the help of three supernatural beings:  Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit.

Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin face grave dangers and encounter the forces of darkness which call upon them to find an inner courage. They learn to believe in themselves and each other.  Ultimately, their friendship is their greatest strength. Together, they overcome even the most difficult obstacles and learn to never give up. In the end, they triumph over their adversaries and save the day, reaffirming their belief that the power of love, hope, and faith is stronger than any evil.

A Wrinkle in Time, which received 30 rejections before it was published in 1962, would go on to win the Newbery Medal.

Happy Birthday Madeleine L’Engle

The book now holds the distinction of being one of the most frequently banned novels in American literature. With that, Madeleine L’Engle became one of few authors to experience enduring literary superstardom during their lifetime, and one of even fewer to live long enough—another 44 years—to see their book take root in the culture, changing the lives of generations of readers and transforming the landscape of possibility for women writers of science fiction and female protagonists. Meg Murry would become an enduring and universal symbol of adolescent angst and girl power—one of the most cherished and iconic characters in American fiction. Millions of lonely young people have felt empowered. I can fight the darkness. I am not alone.Madeleine L’Engle Biography

Milestones: Alfred, Lord Tennyson & Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A Gathering of Friends

September 27, 1855, Alfred Tennyson read from his new book Maud and Other Poems at a social gathering in the home of Robert and Elizabeth Browning in London.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was one of the guests. As Alfred Tennyson read from his collection, Dante Rossetti was inspired to make a sketch of the poet during the recitation.

Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“As we turned over the contents of this volume, a small, hasty, but exceedingly realistic pen and ink sketch, that had nearly got passed over, arrested my attention. It was of Tennyson, 51 seated and reading out his poem Maud. This reading took place in Browning’s London residence, in the presence of Browning, Mrs. Browning, Rossetti, and his brother. Whoever possesses the little sketch ought to prize it very highly.”

Recollections of D.G. Rossetti
Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Milestones: Emily Dickinson

“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.”

Emily Dickinson

On August 10, 1847, Emily Dickinson graduated from Amherst Academy, where she studied English and classical literature, Latin, botany, geology, history, “mental philosophy,” and arithmetic.

The study of “mental philosophy” according to the research I completed today is the branch of philosophy that studies the idea of existence, being, becoming and reality. The nature of the mind and the relationship and connection with the body flows from these thoughts.

Digitally restored black and white daguerrotype of Emily Dickinson, c. early 1847 Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A Light Exists in Spring by Emily Dickinson

Milestones: In Flanders Fields

May 3, 1915, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, soldier, surgeon, artist, and poet, writes “In Flanders Fields.”

This poem is read on Remembrance Day November 11th. Join me in reciting “In Flanders Fields.”

In Flanders Fields

By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae in uniform circa 1914

Milestones: Macbeth

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

William Shakespeare, MacBeth

According to the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Lit Hub Daily, today in 1611, the first known performance of Macbeth was performed at the Globe Theater.

We recognized that William Shakespeare was an extraordinary writer and poet, but he was also politically astute. King James I was known to be a theatre enthusiast.

What better way to welcome King James but with the play, Macbeth, which was set in King James’s native Scotland and included the King’s real-life ancestor, Banquo (Lord Banquo, the Thane of Lochaber), who was positioned as a good and just man destined to have monarchs in his bloodline.

The three witches was a brilliant touch which would have appealed to King James because of his interest in witchcraft. In fact, he considered himself an expert in this area of study having written a book on this subject in 1597.

Dr. Simon Forman was at the first public performance of Macbeth. Most likely, King James had a private performance with is thought to have occurred in August or December 1606.

Can you imagine the crowd when the witches appeared chanting for the first time in public: Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Those lines still have the power to ignite our imagination and draw us deeper into the narrative.

Milestones: Canadian Confederation

March 29, 1867 was a pivotal for Canada!

On this day in Canadian history, the Dominion of Canada was created. With the British North America Act, the British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada were united as the Dominion of Canada, and the province of Canada was separated into Quebec and Ontario.

The British North America Act conferred on the new dominion a constitution, with the executive government vested in Queen Victoria and her successors.

While we celebrate specific dates, we cannot forget all the steps or the people involved in the discussions and negotiations that led up to this event.

Those stories are preserved in our archives for future generations.

“As the custodian of our distant past and recent history, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is a key resource for all Canadians who wish to gain a better understanding of who they are, individually and collectively. LAC acquires, processes, preserves and provides access to our documentary heritage and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.” Library and Archives Canada

Royal Proclamation – Reproduced in One hundred and twenty Canadian historical pictures, portraits, and documents, from the Dominion Archives and other sources : selected from the reproductions made for ‘Canada and its provinces’ and published solely for the subscribers to that work. Shortt, Adam (1859-1931). Toronto, 1914.

Milestones: Happy Birthday Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Moulton-Barrett Born March 6, 1806 Kelloe, Durham, England

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Celebrating Valentine’s Day with Elizabeth Barrett Browning

What we call Life is a condition of the soul. And the soul must improve in happiness and wisdom, except by its own fault. These tears in our eyes, these faintings of the flesh, will not hinder such improvement.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Milestones: John Bunyan, Mark Twain, & Toni Morrison

On this day in history, we are marking three remarkable events. Without question, February 18th was a stellar day for readers.

February 18, 1678 , John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” was published in Holborn, London, by Nathaniel Ponder, known to be a bookseller and publisher of nonconformist works. The Pilgrim’s Progress was written during John Bunyan’s 12 years of imprisonment.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. “Within Sight of the City to Which They Went” The Pilgrim’s Progress c1907 Illustrated by Byam Shaw

On February 18, 1885,  Mark Twain published the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in the United States. As a sequel to “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” which was published in 1876, the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has come to be regarded by many as “the Great American Novel.”

Cover of the book “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, 1884 (Public Domain)

Toni Morrison, original name Chloe Anthony Wofford, was born February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio. I have added “Beloved,” written in 1987, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, to my reading for 2022.

First-edition dust jacket cover of Beloved (1987) by the American author Toni Morrison. (Public Domain)

#WarAndPeace2022 February 15, 2022 Update

#WarAndPeace2022 Readalong Photo Credit Liz Humphreys

Reading taken from Penguin Classics: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Translated by Anthony Briggs Part 1 Chapter 25 p 114

The #WarAndPeace2022 Readalong is moving through Part II and will see us in Part III on February 20, 2022. I am totally involved in the narrative, due in part to the realism that is demonstrated in the battle sequences and strategies.

I have read that Leo Tolstoy worked tirelessly to bring us a complete understanding of the complex historical milieu of War and Peace. He drew on historical events, immersed himself in history books on the Napoleonic Wars and visited the battlefields.

Remember it is never too late to join the #WarAndPeace2022 Readalong. You are always welcome to add to the conversation.

Liz Humphreys has an excellent reflection on Vol1, Part 1 #WarAndPeace2022 Readalong. I know you will enjoy meeting up with Liz Humphreys and Elisabeth Van Der Meer.