Charles Wallace Murry

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Charles Wallace Murry
David Dorfman as Charles Wallace Murry in the 2003 television adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time
First appearance A Wrinkle in Time, 1962
Last appearance A Swiftly Tilting Planet, 1978
Created by Madeleine L'Engle
Portrayed by David Dorfman
Nickname(s) Charles Wallace, Chuck, Charlie (latter only by Mom O'Keefe)
Species a "sport" - human but "something new"
Gender male
Occupation none initially, later a student
Family Parents: Drs. Alex and Kate Murry
Sister: Meg Murry
Twin brothers: Sandy and Dennys Murry
Relatives nephew Charles O'Keefe,
niece Polly O'Keefe

Charles Wallace Murry is a major character in Madeleine L'Engle's young adult science fiction novels A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, sometimes referred to as the Time Trilogy. He is the younger brother of Meg Murry and of the twins Sandy and Dennys Murry.


Charles Wallace did not learn to talk until he was almost four, but then talked in full sentences, skipping over the "baby preliminaries" as Meg said. Because of his brilliance and his shyness, he is bullied by fellow children and misunderstood by adults outside his family. He recognizes that this is a problem he must solve himself; that like any new lifeform, he must learn to adapt successfully to his environment in order to survive.

Charles has blue eyes, and is repeatedly said to be small for his age. At fifteen, he looks "no more than twelve." This is offset somewhat by a mature and serious demeanor.

He prefers to be called Charles Wallace rather than Charlie or Chuck, as noted in Wind and Planet, but Meg frequently calls him simply Charles. In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, he allows Mrs. O'Keefe to call him Chuck, correctly guessing that she is identifying him with someone from her personal past (her brother, as it turns out).

According to an April 2004 article in The New Yorker[citation needed], Charles Wallace is thought to be partly based on Madeleine L'Engle's son, the late Bion Franklin. L'Engle herself has acknowledged that Bion was the model for another of her characters, Rob Austin, but has not stated a similar provenance for Charles Wallace.


In A Wrinkle in Time, Charles Wallace befriends the mysterious Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which, who send him, along with his sister Meg and Calvin O'Keefe, to rescue his father from the planet Camazotz. Trusting too much in his own abilities, Charles Wallace allows himself to join with the mind of IT, pure evil incarnated as a disembodied brain, and must himself be rescued by Meg.

In A Wind in the Door, Charles Wallace is bullied by fellow children and attacked by supernatural characters called the Echthroi, the forces of evil and "Xing." They cause Charles Wallace's mitochondria to sicken by interfering with the fictional "farandolae" within them. An intergalactic group including a snake, a cherubim (sic), a grade school principal, and Meg influence and encourage the young farandolae to "deepen," thus saving Charles Wallace's life.

In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace travels in time to try to stop Mad Dog Branzillo's nuclear plans, going "within" various characters whose actions will help determine Branzillo's ancestry, and whether he is a mad dictator or "a man of peace." Again the Echthroi attack Charles Wallace and try to prevent him from completing his mission.


Meg and Calvin's second eldest child, Charles O'Keefe, is named after Charles Wallace, his uncle. Charles O'Keefe is introduced in The Arm of the Starfish (1965) and also appears in Dragons in the Waters (1976). Like Charles Wallace, Charles O'Keefe is depicted as being empathic, especially with respect to the people he loves. Ironically, however, Charles Wallace Murry is mysteriously absent from the books in which Charles O'Keefe and his elder sister Polly (sometimes spelled Poly, short for Polyhymnia) appear. In A House Like a Lotus (1984), Polly writes that "Mother's youngest brother, the one Charles is named after, is off somewhere on some kind of secret mission, we don't know where." Later, in An Acceptable Time (1989), Polly is given Charles Wallace's old room, newly redecorated for her, when she stays at her grandparents' house.


Charles Wallace is named after Madeleine L'Engle's father, Charles Wadworth Camp, and her husband Hugh Franklin's father, Wallace Collin Franklin. The novel A Wrinkle in Time, the plot of which centers on Charles Wallace and Meg trying to retrieve their absent father, is dedicated to both men. (Camp died in 1935, when L'Engle was a teenager.) L'Engle also used the name Wallace for Dr. Wallace "Wally" Austin, the father of Vicky Austin and her three siblings in the Austin family series of books.

Television movie[edit]

In 2003, David Dorfman portrayed Charles Wallace Murry in the Disney television adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. It was broadcast on ABC, directed by John Kent Harrison, from an adapted teleplay by Susan Shilliday.

External links[edit]