Madeleine L'Engle was born in New York City in 1918 to a foreign correspondent and a gifted pianist. An only child, she had a great love of reading and drawing. After attending several boarding schools in Europe and the U.S., L'Engle graduated from Smith College in 1941 and went on to pursue a career in theater. In 1946, she married Hugh Franklin and the couple moved to New York City. There, L'Engle spent her time helping her husband in their general store, raising three children, and writing her first novels.

Today, Madeleine L'Engle has over 35 books to her name, including science fiction, suspense novels, novels for young adults, poetry, plays, and nonfiction. Nearly all of her books reflect her struggles with Christian theology and her fervent belief in the values of family love and moral responsibility. A Wrinkle in Time, one of her earlier novels, is a blend of science fiction and fantasy, aimed at a young adult audience.

L'Engle has stated that any theory of writing must also be a theory of cosmology: "One cannot discuss structure in writing without discussing structure in all life; it is impossible to talk about why anybody writes a book or paints a picture or composes a symphony without talking about the nature of the universe." A Wrinkle in Time reflects a cosmology heavily influenced by Christian theology and modern physics. L'Engle wrote the book as part of her rebellion against Christian piety and her quest for a personal theology. At the time, she was also reading with great interest the new physics of Albert Einstein and Max Planck. L'Engle's ideas about human life and non-linear time play an important role in this novel and distinguish it from other spiritual and time-travel narratives.

L'Engle initially had tremendous difficulty publishing this novel because publishers could not identify a market for it among either children or adults. L'Engle insisted that she wrote for people, because "people read books." For two years, she received rejection after rejection, a frustrating process she describes at length in her autobiography A Circle of Quiet (1972). Finally, in 1962, John Farrar of Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux agreed to publish the book even though he did not expect it to sell. To the surprise of the publishing world, the book was wildly successful. It was awarded the 1963 Newbery Medal and has now been translated into over 15 languages. L'Engle later wrote a whole series about the Murry family called the Time Fantasy series, including A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), Many Waters (1986), and An Acceptable Time (1996).