Category Archives: Collection-related Publications

50th Anniversary of “A Wrinkle in Time”

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of “A Wrinkle in Time”, this Newbery Award-winning novel written by Madeleine L’Engle has over 10 million copies in print. The following article was written by the author at the novel’s 25th anniversary.

It’s been twenty-five years since the publication of A Wrinkle in Time, and longer than that since I wrote it, and it is hard to believe that more than a quarter of a century has passed.

When I wrote Wrinkle, I was in a state of transition. We had been living in northwest Connecticut for nearly a decade, and were ready to move back to New York City. When we left the frustrations and stresses of Manhattan and decided to raise our family in the protected environment of a small, dairy-farm village where there we more cows than people, my husband thought he had left the theater forever. But forever (to my joy) was over, and Hugh was going back to the theater, and this move was going to be what is now called “culture shock” for our children. So we bought a tent and five sleeping bags and set off on a cross-continent camping trip.

As we crossed the North American continent I continued the thinking that had begun a few months earlier when I had stumbled across a book of Einstein’s and discovered that for me higher math is easier than lower math. My background in science was nil, and in any case the new sciences that excited me weren’t being taught when I was in school and college.

There’s nothing like marriage, children, leaving home (I was born in Manhattan) to start one asking all the old questions: What does life mean? Does it matter? What is the universe like? Is there a pattern and a plan? And am I a part of it?

The old philosophies left me unsatisfied. The religious establishment made the mistake of answering the great questions to which there are no answers, only new questions. I would walk the dogs at night, looking at the incredible sweep of stars above me, and philosophies and theologies centered only on his planet, and usually on only a small segment of the population, seemed totally inadequate. They left me hungry for something more marvelous.

We left on our cross-country trip in the early spring of 1959 and the first idea for Wrinkle came to me as we were driving across the Painted Desert. The names Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which simply popped into my head. I turned around in the car and said, “Hey, kids, I’ve just thought of three great names, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. I’ll have to write a book about them sometime.” And so the names of the three cosmic bag ladies went into the subconscious creative slow cooker. In the evenings, in the tent, I read from the box of books I had brought with me: more Einstein; Planck, and his quantum theory; books on the macrocosmic world of astrophysics; books on the microcosmic world of particle physics. There I found ideas about the nature of being which stimulated and fascinated me. When we got home, my husband went right into a play, and I sat down at the desk and typed out, “It was a dark and stormy night,” and the book poured out of my fingers. Evenings, I would read to my children what I had written during the day, and they would say, “Oh, Mother, go back to the typewriter!” (They didn’t always say that.)

When I finished the manuscript, I was drained and excited. I believed it to be not only totally different from my six previously published books but by far the best thing I had ever written. My children loved it; my husband loved it; my agent loved it. I hope that its publication would end a decade during which I had received countless rejection slips for more traditional books, half a dozen of which are still in typescript upon my shelves.

Well, I was kept hanging for two years, by many different publishers.
“What is it?” I would be asked. “Is it fantasy or science fiction?”
“It’s a book.”
“But who is it for? Is it for children, or adults?”

Over and over again, I received nothing more than the formal, printed rejection slip. These cold, impersonal rejections hurt. I began to doubt myself. Didn’t any of what I saw in the book get onto the typewritten page?

I had written Wrinkle beginning in the late summer of 1959 and finished in early 1960. The world was still in chaos. While my husband was reestablishing himself in the theater, the children and I stayed in the country. War with Russia seemed imminent. At school, the children were taught to crouch under their little wooden desks, their hands over their heads, in case an atom bomb fell on the school. What insanity! Some of my feelings about this insanity are expressed in Wrinkle. In it, I was trying to write about my own questions, my own affirmation of meaning despite seeming chaos.

(After Wrinkle was published, I was frequently asked if Camazotz didn’t represent Soviet Russia. Interesting: nobody asks that anymore.)

We moved back to New York, which no longer seemed more insane than the rest of the world. Air-raid sirens going off every day at noon, signs for air-raid shelters, for closed highways “in case of enemy attack,” seemed no more realistic than crouching under a desk.

And the rejection slips continued. How could they seem important against a background of a planet gone mad? They did. My book was a candle in the dark for me, and a hope.

A form rejection slip came on the Monday before Christmas 1961. I was sitting on the bed, wrapping Christmas presents and trying to feel brave, and thinking I was succeeding. After Christmas, I discovered that I had sent a necktie to a three-year-old girl and a bottle of perfume to a bachelor uncle. I called my agent. “Send it back. It’s too different. Nobody’s going to publish it. It’s too hard on my family. Every time it’s rejected, I bleed all over the living room rug.”

He sent it back, and that ought to have been the end of it. But my mother was with us for Christmas, and I gave a party for some of her old New York friends, and one of them happened to belong to a small writing group led by John Farrar, co-founder of Farrar, Straus and Company. She insisted that I meet him. I was, at that moment, not particularly interested in meeting any publisher. But she set up an appointment, and I took the subway down to Union Square, bearing my very battered manuscript.

John had already read my first novel, The Small Rain, and had admired it. I told him that Wrinkle was very different, but he was eager to read it. In two weeks I heard from my agent that he had read it, and really liked it, but was afraid of it. My heart sank. I had been so hopeful, after leaving John’s office, that the long wait might be at an end.

John and Hal Vursell (who was to be my editor from then on until his death) sent the worn manuscript to a librarian for assessment. She wrote back, “I think this is the worst book I have ever read. It reminds me of The Wizard of Oz.”

I’m not sure how many more weeks it was before John called me to tell me that he was going to publish the book. I went back downtown to have lunch with him and Hal, and they warned me, “Now, dear, we don’t want you to be disappointed, but this book is not going to sell. It’s much too difficult for children. We’re publishing it as a self-indulgence because we love it, and we don’t want you to be hurt.”

And then, in the spring of 1962, A Wrinkle in Time was published, and it took off like a skyrocket.

The problem wasn’t that it was too difficult for children. It was too difficult for adults.


The Papers of Madeleine L’Engle are housed in the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections and are available for research.

New Book on Russian Evangelical Spirituality Published

The Development of Russian Evangelical SpiritualityA new book on Russian Evangelical spirituality is receiving strong praise. Aided by the holdings of the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections, along with other archival resources, Gregory Nicholas has produced what Walter Sawatsky of the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, calls a “deep, careful exploration of the developing spirituality and theology of Ivan V Kargel.” Sawatsky goes on to say that in The Development of Russian Evangelical Spirituality, Nichols has made “an important contribution [that] has earned [Nichols] the right to be heard.” Utilizing the Pashkov Papers, Gregory Nichols delves into the life of Kargel, whose life spans from Tsarist Russia to the Soviet Union. Despite Kargel’s disinterest in articulating a systematic theology, Nichols illustrates how the Keswick Holiness movement played a vital role in Kargel’s theology and how Kargel adapted this Western movement to his own context. Commending Nichols’ use of “previously neglected primary sources,” noted scholar, David Bebbington (University of Stirling), reinforces the significance of Kargel as “the most important spiritual writer in the early years of the evangelical Christians-Baptists in Russia and Ukraine.” The history of Christianity in Russia goes back more than a millennium, but the historical tapestry of Evangelical Protestantism was only woven more recently through the influence of German Baptists, a revival sparked by a British evangelist (Lord Radstock), and a pietistic awakening among the Mennonites in the South. It is clear from reviewers that Nichols book is a valuable contribution to the study of global Evangelicalism and the fuller understanding of Russian spirituality.

Robert E. Webber

One of the more controversial professors at Wheaton College was Dr. Robert E. Webber, who influenced a generation of students and a large segment of evangelicalism. Raised in a Baptist church in Pennsylvania, he attended Bob Jones University in the late 1950s before enrolling at Reformed Episcopal Seminary, finishing in 1960 his graduate education at Covenant Theological Seminary. He began teaching theology at Wheaton College in 1968. Youthful, energetic and sympathetic to the concerns of students, he was a popular and highly effective lecturer. As he studied ecclesiastical history, its variable trends and moods, Webber perceived that vital practices had been ignored or recklessly tossed aside during the Reformation.

In 1978 he published Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail, a collection of autobiographical essays by Webber and former evangelicals who gradually adopted Anglo-catholic or Catholic forms of worship. When released the book generated considerable heat among evangelicals who felt that Webber had betrayed the Protestant faith. Eventually, however, it was recognized that his pioneering research opened doors for fresh approaches to church life, whether liturgical expressions were adopted or not. Closely studying the permutations of Christian worship, Webber wrote or edited several additional books dealing with the history and function of liturgy, including Worship is a Verb, Blended Worship and the seven-volume Complete Library of Christian Worship. During his later career he concentrated on the writings of the Church Fathers, attempting to draw from their treatises insights for contemporary contexts. This interest is reflected in the Introduction to Journey to Jesus: “The model of evangelism proposed in this book is a resurrection of the seeker model…that originated in the third century…It speaks particularly to the current search for an effective style of evangelism in a world dominated by postmodern thought, a church living in a post-Constantinian society, and the challenge to overcome the resurgence of pagan values.” Webber was Director of the Institute for Worship Studies. At the time of his death in 2007, he was the William R. and Geraldyn B. Myers professor of ministry at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois.

“The union of all who love in the service of all who suffer”

Chicago has always been seen as a rough-and-tumble kind of place stuck in the center of this country’s vast agricultural region and far short of the glories of the refined cities of either coast. The former stockyards of Chicago reinforced this. It is said that Chicago’s name can be traced back to native peoples and their name for the wild onions found locally. Onions are grown and mired in mud and muck and this is not too far from an apt description of Chicago’s history.

In the dozen or so years around the turn of the twentieth-century several individuals and writers sought to chronicle and clean up the filth of Chicago. The key event that afforded the opportunity for much of the work was the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Having worked in Chicago for several decades during his worldwide evangelistic ministry, Dwight Lyman Moody held evangelistic meetings for six months during the “fair.” His campaigns have been detailed in Moody in Chicago (1894).

Whereas Moody was the evangelist, William T. Stead was the journalist. His chronicling of the religious needs of Chicago were quite different. Though Moody garnered the public’s attention it was never through outlandish acts or prurience. The same cannot be said for Stead’s provocative work If Christ Came to Chicago. Stead had come to Chicago from London as the fair was closing up. He was known as a great reporter and social reformer and had come to Chicago to study its newspapers, but the exposition’s great White City caught his attention. The thought of its destruction seemed too much and Stead sought to preserve the glories created there. As Stead remained in Chicago his eyes caught sight of another Chicago. Rather than the gleaming purity of the White City he saw the filthy darkness of the Black City that was in need of social and civic regeneration. In all his travels he had never encountered a city with greater promise, or problems.

Map - If Christ Came to ChicagoThe closing of the fair had left many out of work and the economy of Chicago, previously propped up by the fair, tumbled into an economic depression. The great needs that emerged also facilitated an environment filled with licentiousness and debauchery. Stead wrote If Christ Came to Chicago to document the specifics of this environment and mapped it out with great specificity in Chicago’s First Ward. This laid the groundwork for future ethnographic studies of Chicago, most notably the work conducted by Hull House.

By writing this book Stead hoped to enlist the help of Chicago’s churches, the labor unions, and millionaires, many of whom, he felt, had neglected their Christian duty to the poor. His jeremiad was written to incite action. It certainly incited a public response, especially the book’s map of the location of bordellos, saloons, and pawn brokers.

The Octopus on the LakeDespite Stead’s goal of bringing together a “union of all who love in the service of all who suffer,” the dirt wasn’t easily shaken from the wild onion. The roots of the onion are many. Nearly a decade and a half after the close of the Columbian Exposition it was still quite easy to document the problems of Chicago. The Social Evil in Chicago (1911) was a study conducted by the city’s Vice Commission and served as it’s report to the Mayor and city Council “of exciting conditions” in Chicago. The conditions of Chicago had not improved and in some ways were normalized and facilitated as can be seen by the official licensing of prostitution within the bounds of Wentworth and Wabash avenues (p. 38).

Chicago can still be described in many of the same ways as these texts from a century ago. The corruption of Chicago’s First Ward has been the fodder of newspaper accounts in recent decades. It still could use a “union of all who love in the service of all who suffer.”

Pearl S. Buck

In recent days a collection of four Pearl Buck manuscripts have been placed on deposit at the Wheaton College Special Collections. These include a hand-written “Son of Fate” manuscript, “Cultural Contacts of the West with the Far East”, a typed speech given to the Cooper Union on February 1, 1944, and a signed autograph manuscript of her “Asia Column” from 1940. The featured “Asia Column” is five pages on 8.5 x 11″ three-ring paper with heading in Buck’s hand, and includes Buck’s signature, with cross-outs and rewrites by the author. In April of 1935, Buck took charge of the “Asia Book-Shelf” column for Asia Magazine, assigning books for review and writing many of the notices herself. In this five-page manuscript she choose four books for review that were incredibly significant and have been reprinted and still available since first published in 1939: In Stalin’s Secret Service (Krivitsky), British Diplomacy in China, 1880-1885 (Kiernan), A Japanese Village (Embree), and Five Miles High (Bates).

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973), author and activist, was an ardent feminist and multi-culturalist. The first American woman to win a Nobel Prize for literature, she was acknowledged by most of her peers as one of the leading authorities on China and Asia. She had gone to China with her missionary parents at age three months in 1892. She was educated in the United States but returned to China afterward. Upon her return to the United States in the 1930’s, Buck found a country isolationist in thinking and parochial in world-view. With a characteristic energy, Buck and her second husband Richard set about making east and west better known to each other. Her work at Asia Magazine went a long way to assist in that task. (Conn, Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography, p.181).

Svetlana, the Little Princess

While living in Russia, Svetlana Stalin, the only daughter and last surviving child of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, was “the little princess.” A perfume and many Russian girls were named after her. At the end of her days in Wisconsin, far from her homeland, she died in obscurity on November 22, 2011, at age 85. Between those points Svetlana rode the soaring ups and dismal downs of an extraordinary life.

Defecting in 1967 from Russia, she moved to India, then to Europe, then to the United States. Already widowed and divorced, she married American William Wesley Peters, a former son-in-law to Frank Lloyd Wright, and took the name “Lana Peters.” Returning to Moscow in 1984, she moved to Soviet Georgia, than back to America, then to England, then to France, back to America, then to England again, before finally settling in Wisconsin. During her U.S. sojourn, Svetlana espoused deeply conservative causes, financially supporting William F. Buckley’s National Review. In Russian, she seemingly denounced these views, stating that she had been a “pet” used by the C.I.A. Residing again in the U.S., she retracted her former anti-conservative sentiments, accusing the press of mistranslating her statements.

In 1982 the BBC aired “A Week with Svetlana,” documenting her visit at the Sussex home of Malcolm and Kitty Muggeridge. The famed defector discussed her experience as Stalin’s daughter and the growth and stability of religion in the USSR.

The program was positively received. One woman wrote to Muggeridge, “…It was so very interesting to meet Svetlana, whose faith has sustained her through her joys and sadness…Her conversation, riveting and evocative, reminded me of my young days…Eager to create a brave, new world…” Another wrote: “My heart has been set singing after watching on the television yourself and your guest Stalin’s daughter…The pictures of your house, the garden and the dear English countryside was a feast indeed. Even more, was the unwavering faith of your guest. ‘Christ is alive!’ Hallelulah, my heart replies…”

“You can’t regret your fate,” Svetlana once remarked, “although I do regret my mother didn’t marry a carpenter.” She authored two autobiographies, Twenty Letters to a Friend and Only One Year.

The papers of Malcolm Muggeridge (SC-04) are maintained at Wheaton College Special Collections.

A.A. Milne

Alan Alexander Milne was born in Kilburn, London, England in 1882 and grew up at Henley House School, a small independent school in London run by his father. One of his teachers was H.G. Wells who taught there in 1889-90. Milne later attended Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, studying mathematics. While at Cambridge Milne edited and wrote for a student magazine, Granta, where he came to the attention of editors at Punch, a humor and satirical magazine. He would later work at Punch as an assistant editor. In 1913 Milne married Dorothy “Daphne” de Selincourt and together they had one child, Christopher Robin Milne, on whom was based the Christopher Robin character of his later Winnie the Pooh books. Milne retired to his farm after a stroke and brain surgery in 1952 left him an invalid. He died in 1956.

Materials on A.A. Milne and monographs of his works are located in the William S. Akin Rare Book Collection in the Wheaton College Special Collections.

The Longest Strike in History

Tom HigdonIn recent years much has been happening in the world of unions, collective rights and strikes. April 1st marks the anniversary of what has been called the longest strike in history. What makes the story of this strike amazing, along with its length, was who the strikers were. On April 1, 1914 the dismissal of the teachers of the local school in Burston, Norfolk, England took effect. Kitty and Tom Higdon were relieved of their duties. In response to this 66 of the school’s 72 children went on strike and marched about the village demanding the return of their teachers. Officially, the strike never ended.

In 1902 Parliament passed the Education Bill that stated that working-class children were entitled to an education. In places like Burston that education prepared students for little more than work in the factories, fields or domestic service. Christian educators like Tom and Kitty Higdon believed that that all children should have a better education than what many districts offered. They saw that education was an opportunity for a better life. In 1902 the Higdons began teaching near Aylsham, thirty-some miles from Burston. It was here, in this highly agricultural area, that they organized an agricultural workers union and help local workers make their way onto the local education committee. These committees were often dominated by farm owners who sought to be sure that students were educated sufficiently to work on local farms but not much more. With such limited education workers and their children often lived in squalid conditions and they often took children out of school whenever seasonal cheap labor was needed, thus hampering their education further.

By 1911 the Higdon’s work created a rift in the local community and they were dismissed. It was at this time that they moved south to Burston. In Burston the Higdons arrived and took up the posts of School Mistress and Assistant Master. Tom also served as a Methodist lay preacher. In this part of rural Norfolk the squires and farmers ruled and held sway over the workers, who were expected to work for very low wages–often barely enough to live on with both pay and living conditions at an appalling level. Housing was atrocious and people died because of conditions. The local rector’s salary was 15 times that of the average local worker.

Like Aylsham, the Higdon’s encouraged the workers to take matters into their own hands, especially through changing the Parish Council. It was the Parish Council that set the rates of pay for field workers. In 1914 the local workers were able to assume full control of the council after a full slate of local hands were elected. In response to their agitation the Higdons were removed as teachers by the local school council, a council still under the control of the farm owners. It was their removal that sparked the school strike. Kitty and Tom Higdon teaching on the green (from the Burston Rebellion)The school children marched to express their frustrations. The Higdons continued to teach the children on the local village green. To quell the defiance the school board took parents to court and fined them for failing maintain the enrollment of their children in school. When this didn’t succeed workers were evicted from their homes. The rector evicted workers from the land they rented to grow vegetables. Even the local Methodist minister was censured for aiding the students and their families. Eventually the students and teachers moved into local workshops and a “free” school was built and opened in 1917. It remained a “school of freedom” until 1939 when Tom Higdon’s death in 1939 when Kitty could no longer keep the school open.

The story of the strike is told in the 1985 film The Burston Rebellion directed by Norman Stone, whose papers are housed in the Special Collections.

“The smartest guy in Congress…”

Gerald Ford said of John Bayard Anderson, “He’s the smartest guy in Congress, but he insists on voting his conscience instead of party.” This statement spoke well of the son on a Swedish immigrant who sought to honor his beliefs. Anderson, from Rockford, Illinois (Illinois’ 16th Congressional district) served in the U. S. House of Representatives for twenty years (ten terms) and was a candidate for president in the 1980 election.

Born in 1922, Anderson was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Wheaton (LL.D. — Doctor of Laws) in 1970 and spoke at Wheaton on occasion. Though honored in 1970, his visit on March 12, 1980 was not so hospitable. The election season of 1980 was the most significant season of political stops Wheaton College had ever seen. Illinois has, for a long time, been a key battleground state with its large numbers of electoral votes and the 1980 primary season brought many March visitors to the campus. The first visitor was John B. Anderson.

A devout Christian, as a member of Congress Anderson, on three occasions, sought to amend the U.S. Constitution to recognize the law and authority of Jesus Christ over the United States. This put him in good stead with conservative Christian voters, but during his race for the presidential nomination he supported certain abortion rights. His endorsement of a person’s right to choose, which he believed was God-given, put him at odds with the same conservatives that once heralded his work in Washington. It is amazing to see what difference a decade can make. Having served in Congress for nearly two decades Anderson retained his economic conservatism but grew much more moderate in his position on social issues. He and his fellow Republicans of similar moderate beliefs had become known as Rockefeller Republicans. Anderson’s wife noted that after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1968 riots she understood her husband’s devotion to his work. Though shaken by the events of that year she found she couldn’t match his level of concern.

Anderson’s reception at the November polls were about as favorable as he had received at Wheaton. In the end he received 7% of the popular vote and didn’t carry a single precinct, not even in Rockford, Illinois. Unable to return to his seat in Congress Anderson found himself as a visiting professor on several college and university campuses. Unfortunately, Wheaton College was not one of them.

The Wesley Pippert Papers document a portion of the Anderson campaign, including audio of several of his campaign speeches.

The MacDowell Memorial Colony

Edward MacDowellEdward MacDowell (1860-1908), pianist and composer, felt that the productivity he enjoyed in his later years was the result of the uninterrupted leisure and pine-scented countryside of Peterborough, New Hampshire, where his summer retreat was located. Comfortable in his cabin situated a few years from his home, Hillcrest, he created the Norse and Celtic sonatas, the New England Idylls, the Fireside Tales, and many other songs and choruses. So far out in the woods, the property offered the deep pervading solitude of a primeval forest. During his final illness MacDowell fretted as to what might happen to this beloved patch of earth, hoping that it might continue providing a safe haven for other artists. As he lay dying, his wife, Marian, promised him that she would devote her life to fulfilling his dream. Shortly before he died, the Mendlessohn Glee Club had raised funds for an as-yet undecided memorial; at the suggestion of Mrs. MacDowell, the memorial took the form of an endowment of the Peterborough property for the purpose of establishing an art colony.

Feeling strongly that the various arts all spring from the same impulse, Edward MacDowell encouraged his students to expose themselves to other forms. For instance, the musician should know something about painting; and the sculptor should know something about poetry. The best way to accomplish this was to congregate representatives of all arts, acquainting them with one another. And so the Colony was instituted, acquiring additional acreage in the following decades – though most of it remained undeveloped to preserve the rich forest. Studios and cabins were built, each sufficiently secluded to afford privacy and productivity. Men had their own houses, the women theirs. Residing at Hillcrest, Mrs. MacDowell supervised the construction of studios, roads and the farm. In addition, she traveled far and wide, delivering lecture-recitals, raising substantial support for the 600-acre Colony.

Throughout the years the Colony has hosted such guests as Willa Cather, Elinor Wylie, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Stephen Vincent Benet and Thornton Wilder, who there wrote Our Town. Recent participants include James Baldwin, Michael Chabon and Alice Walker.

The Edward MacDowell Papers (SC-196), comprising photographs, pamphlets and newspaper articles, are housed at the Wheaton College (IL) Special Collections.