Award Winning Novel Rejected by 26 Publishers

Yesterday I finished reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle aloud to my eldest (great book!). Then I looked it up on Wikipedia because it seemed to be the first in a series (sure enough it is), and I was struck by this:

However, when she completed the book in early 1960, it was rejected by at least 26 publishers, because it was, in L’Engle’s words, “too different”, and “because it deals overtly with the problem of evil, and it was too difficult for children, and was it a children’s or an adults’ book, anyhow?”[2][11]

Reminds me of what my mother used to say: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” When finally published in 1962, the book won the John Newberry Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

The next paragraph of the Wikipedia article gets at the providential truth in publishing (as in life) that the Lord raises up and puts down:

After trying “forty-odd” publishers (L’Engle later said “twenty-six rejections”), L’Engle’s agent returned the manuscript to her. Then at Christmas, L’Engle threw a tea party for her mother. One of the guests happened to know John C. Farrar of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and insisted that L’Engle should meet with him. Although the publisher did not at the time publish a line of children’s books, Farrar met L’Engle, liked the novel and ultimately published it.[16]

Related: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected by 121 publishing houses.

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  1. Madeleine’s stuff is a treasure! I’ve got a book called Glimpses of Grace: Daily Thoughts and Reflections which is a collection of Madeleine’s writings that have been edited into a daily devotional book. I’ve used this book as a part of my daily devotions for over ten years. Keep reading her books!!

  2. They are great books. Well worth reading. Depending on how old your child is, you may want to pre-screen the other books in the series before reading them together. If I recall correctly, some of the later books (Many Waters, maybe others) deal with some romantic and sexual themes that may not be appropriate for young children.

  3. I love that book! The rest of the series is also very good. There are five books altogether, but the first is the best. I also have the first two in her other series, The Austin Family Chronicles, which is not a fantasy series, but is still interesting.

  4. If only Madeleine L’Engle had been rejected by _27_ publishers!

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