Pre-order the Atlas Obscura Book now and Receive a Free Enamel Pin.
Mini book a30976e9da7a24921cf3be4abf80181ccad21053999e5b9c9eff280eeaa1806b

How Does 'A Wrinkle in Time' Look on a Map?

article-image

A 100% hand-painted map of "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle, by illustrator Andrew DeGraff. (All photos: Andrew DeGraff/Zest Books)

"It’s a bit of a sinister landscape," author and illustrator Andrew DeGraff says of his hand-painted map inspired by the 1963 sci-fi classic A Wrinkle in Time. The stunning map, which took DeGraff around 140 hours to create, uses colored lines to represent each fictional character's journey through the galaxy of Madeleine L'Engle's beloved children's book, with detailed illustrations of each of the planets they visit along the way.

The illustrated map is one of many included in DeGraff's book, Plotted: A Literary Atlas. The book aims to create a visual "tour of literature," and uses novels like Huckleberry FinnPride and Prejudice, and Watership Down as guides. "We were looking at books that were not only high quality pieces of literature, but also work well visually for a map," says DeGraff, speaking from his studio in California.  

Planet Earth, and the Murrys' vegetable garden, where their journey begins and ends.

Giving A Wrinkle in Time the map treatment was a no-brainer for DeGraff, who cites the novel in a list of his favorite books from his childhood, alongside The Lord of the Rings and the Narnia Chronicles. "It was our only distinct sci-fi piece," DeGraff says. 

While DeGraff strove to keep the details as accurate as possible, these are not maps that help you mark out trips that you can take for yourself. The Wrinkle in Time map is firmly set in the fantastical, and the visual universe that DeGraff creates is necessarily otherworldly, showing the Murry siblings' journey through space with their witch guides. "Trying to find the identity of all the different planets was incredibly fun to do," he says.

The tesseracts which they use to get from place to place are depicted as literal wrinkles in their journey lines. In addition to the lines that represent all the characters, the novel's ominous antagonist, "The Black Thing," is represented in black splotches on the map. "The fun of this book is that you’re always unsure about where you stand, whether the witches are good or bad," DeGraff explains. 

The planet of Camazotz, which is dominated by The Black Thing. Illustrator DeGraff says he pictured the planet's central headquarters as "a squat Empire State Building." 

Each map in Plotted features its own location-specific artwork and color scheme. "We wanted to do something very different and individual for each book," DeGraff says of the color palette. "We were guided by trying to stay true to the feeling of the book as much as possible, which is kind of a tricky thing when you’re talking about the entire scope of a novel."

"There's a lot of time that gets spent going back and forth between the book and the piece," says DeGraff. "I tried to make everything as perfect as possible and treat everything with the same degree of detail. Every tree is as important as every place."

This story appeared as part of Atlas Obscura's Time Week, a week devoted to the perplexing particulars of keeping time throughout history. See more Time Week stories here.