Joan Delano Aiken
(September 4 1924
– January 4 2004
) was an English novelist
. She was born in Rye
, East Sussex
, into a family of writers, including her father, Conrad Aiken
(who won a Pulitzer Prize
for his poetry), and her sister, Jane Aiken Hodge.
She worked for the BBC and the UNIC, before she started writing professionally, mainly children's books and thrillers. For her books she received the Guardian Award (1969) and the Edgar Allan Poe Award (1972).
Many of her most popular books, including the Wolves Chronicles, were set in an elaborate alternate history
of Britain in which James II
is never deposed in the Glorious Revolution
, but supporters of the House of Hanover
continually agitate against the monarchy. These books also toy with the geography of London, adding a Canal District among other features.
Her series of children's books about Arabel and Mortimer are illustrated by Quentin Blake. Others are illustrated by Jan Pieńkowski.
Her many novels for adults include several that continue or complement novels by Jane Austen. These include Mansfield Revisited and Jane Fairfax.
Aiken was a lifelong fan of ghost stories. Her favourite authors were M. R. James, Fitz James O'Brien and Nugent Barker. She set her adult supernatural novel The Haunting Of Lamb House at Lamb House in Rye (now a National Trust property). This ghost story recounts in fictional form an alleged haunting experienced by two former residents of the house, Henry James and E. F. Benson, both of whom also wrote ghost stories. Aiken's father, Conrad Aiken, also authored a small number of notable ghost stories.
Wolves Chronicles (in narrative order)
More Hanoverian stories
Arabel and Mortimer series
- Go Saddle the Sea (1978)
- Bridle the Wind (1983)
- In the Teeth of the Gale (1988)
- Tymn, Marshall B.; Kenneth J. Zahorski and Robert H. Boyer Fantasy Literature: A Core Collection and Reference Guide. New York: R.R. Bowker Co..
- Obituary, Daily Telegraph, 6 January 2004.
- Obituary and Appreciation, The Guardian, 7 & 9 January 2004.
- Obituary, The Times, 9 January 2004.
- Obituary, The Independent, 10 January 2004.
- Incomplete Bibliography
- Bibliography, with cover images, at Fantastic Fiction
- Retrospective: The Endless Imagination of Joan Aiken, at Books For Keeps