The novel includes references to Einstein's theory of relativity and Planck's quantum theory. In "A Special Message from Madeleine L'Engle" on the Random House website, L'Engle offers another possible reason for the rejections: " A Wrinkle in Time had a female protagonist in a science fiction book," which at the time was uncommon. Then at Christmas, L'Engle threw a tea party for her mother. One of the guests happened to know John C. In , the book won the Newbery Medal , an annual award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American childrens' literature.
The book has been continuously in print since its first publication. The book has also been published in a 25th anniversary collectors' edition limited to signed and numbered copies , at least two book club editions one hardback, one Scholastic Book Services paperback , as a trade paperback under the Dell Yearling imprint, and as a mass market paperback under the Dell Laurel-Leaf imprint.
The cover art on the paperback editions has changed several times since its first publication. The book was reissued by Square Fish in trade and mass market paperback formats in May , along with the rest of the Time Quintet. This new edition includes a previously unpublished interview with L'Engle as well as a transcription of her Newbery Medal acceptance speech.
Thirteen-year-old Meg Murry 's classmates and teachers see her as a troublesome and stubborn student. Her family knows that she is emotionally immature but also sees her capable of doing great things. The family includes her scientist mother Katherine, missing scientist father Alexander, twins Sandy and Dennys, and five-year-old brother Charles Wallace Murry , a child genius who can sometimes read Meg's mind. The book begins with the line " It was a dark and stormy night ", an allusion to the opening words in the Edward Bulwer-Lytton novel Paul Clifford They are joined by their mother, and visited by their new eccentric neighbor, Mrs.
During the conversation, Mrs. Whatsit casually mentions the existence of a tesseract , which causes Katherine to almost faint. The next morning, Meg discovers that the term refers to a scientific concept her father was working on before his mysterious disappearance. The following afternoon, Meg and Charles Wallace encounter Meg's schoolmate, Calvin O'Keefe , a high-school junior who, although popular at school, considers himself a misfit as well.
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Then they visit an old haunted house near town that Charles Wallace already knows is the home of Mrs. There, they encounter two companions of Mrs. Whatsit's, the equally strange Mrs. Who and the unseen voice of Mrs. She promises that she and her friends will help Meg find and rescue her father. In the evening, Charles Wallace declares it is time for them to go on their mission to save their father. This is accompanied by the appearance of the third member of the Mrs. Ws, Mrs.
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Which, who appears to materialize out of nothing. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which turn out to be supernatural beings who transport Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe through the universe by means of tesseract, a fifth-dimensional phenomenon explained as folding the fabric of space and time. The first stop is the planet Uriel, a Utopian world filled with Centaur -like beings who live in a state of light and love. Whatsit shows that she, Mrs. Which are these centaur-like creatures in disguise as humans. The Mrs. Ws reveal to the children that the universe is under attack from an evil being who appears as a large dark cloud called The Black Thing, which is essentially the personification of evil.
The children are taken to visit the Happy Medium, a woman with a crystal ball through which they see that Earth is partially covered by the darkness, although great religious figures, philosophers, scientists, and artists have been fighting against it. Whatsit is revealed to be a former star who exploded in an act of self-sacrifice to fight the darkness. The children travel to the dark planet of Camazotz, which has succumbed to the Black Thing. Meg's father is trapped on the planet. They find that all the inhabitants behave in a mechanical way and seem to be under the control of a single mind.
Under the man's influence, he takes Meg and Calvin to the place where Alexander is being held prisoner because he would not succumb to the group mind. The planet is controlled by an evil disembodied brain with powerful abilities, which the inhabitants of Camazotz call "IT".
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Charles Wallace takes them to the place where IT is held. In such proximity to IT, the children are vulnerable to a potential telepathic takeover of their minds. With special powers from Mrs Who's glasses, Alexander is able to "tesser" Calvin, Meg and himself away from Camazotz, but Charles Wallace is left behind, still under the influence of IT. Murry, inexperienced at tessering, does not know how to protect Meg from the Black Thing, nearly killing her.
When they arrive on the neighboring planet of Ixchel, Meg is nearly frozen, and paralyzed.
Calvin and the Murrys are discovered by the planet's inhabitants - large, eyeless beasts with featureless faces, tentacles and four arms, who prove both wise and gentle. Meg's paralysis is cured under the care of one inhabitant, whom Meg nicknames Aunt Beast. Meg overcomes her anger at her father for leaving Charles Wallace on Camazotz, realizing that parents can't fix everything, and sometimes children can solve problems themselves.
Then the trio of Mrs. Which arrive. They charge Meg with rescuing Charles Wallace from IT, because only Meg has a strong enough bond with him while their father had last seen Charles Wallace when he was a baby and Calvin had only just met him. They each give Meg a gift. Whatsit gives Meg her love.
Who quotes to Meg a passage from the Bible about God choosing the foolish of the world to confound the wise, and the weak to defeat the strong 1 Corinthians Which tells Meg that she has one thing that IT does not have but doesn't specify what it is. Meg realizes that the one thing she has that IT does not is love.
She focuses all her love at Charles Wallace and is able to free him from IT's control. Who, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Whatsit tesser the Murrys and Calvin back to Earth. In the vegetable garden they are all reunited with Katherine and the twins. Whatsit says that although she and the others like the spectacle of the family reuniting, they have to go somewhere. Before Mrs. Whatsit finishes her sentence, she and the others disappear.
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Meg is the oldest child of scientists Alex and Kate Murry, about thirteen years old. Introduced on the first page of the book, she is the story's main protagonist. Charles Wallace is the youngest Murry child, at five years old. Charles Wallace speaks only to his family, but can empathically or telepathically read certain people's thoughts and feelings. Calvin is the third oldest of Paddy and Branwen O'Keefe's eleven children: a tall, thin, red-haired year-old high school junior. He shows some signs of being able to communicate telepathically , the same power Charles Wallace seems to have.
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Which are immortal beings who can travel across large stretches of time and space by dematerializing and rematerializing. They are capable of shapeshifting, but spend most of their time on Earth as elderly women. All three are billions of years old and were once stars that had sacrificed themselves as a nova or supernova to destroy parts of the Black Thing. Whatsit is the youngest of the Mrs.
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Ws despite being 2,,, years, 8 months, and 3 days old , and interacts with the children. She also used to be a star. She struggles to articulate her words. Which is the leader of the three women and the wisest. Her distinguishing quirk is her long, drawn-out method of speech, symbolized by doubled consonants in her words.
IT is the bodiless, telepathic brain that dominates the planet of Camazotz and is the main antagonist of the story. IT is described as a giant-sized human brain. While IT usually speaks through one of its pawns, IT can speak directly to people via telepathy. The Black Thing, a formless, shadowy being, is the source of all evil in the universe. At the start of the novel, he has been missing for some time.
Katherine Murry, the mother of the Murry children, is a microbiologist. She is considered beautiful by the Murry children and others, having "flaming red hair", creamy skin, and violet eyes with long dark lashes.