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Joan Delano Aiken was born in Rye, Sussex, England, on September 4, 1924, the daughter of the Pulitzer Prize winner, writer Conrad Aiken. She was raised in a rural area and home schooled by her mother until the age 12. She then attended Wychwood School, a boarding school in Oxford. Her work first appeared in 1941 when the British Broadcasting Corporation, where she worked as a librarian, broadcast some of her short stories on their Children's Hour program. Aiken also worked at St. Thomas's Hospital, and in 1943 she moved to the reference department of the London office of the United Nations, where she collected information about resistance movements. She worked for the UN until 1949, all the while continuing to write stories. In 1953 a collection of short fiction called All You've Ever Wanted and Other Stories was published. While writing The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, begun in 1952, her husband became ill and died of lung cancer in 1955. After working for five years as a copy editor at Argosy Magazine, and at the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Firm, she returned and finished the book in 1963. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award and was made into a successful film in 1988. In 1969 The Whispering Mountain won the Guardian Children's Book Award, and in 1972, Night Fall won America's Edgar Allen Poe Award for juvenile mystery. Aiken is best known for her adult "fantasy" stories. She has received awards for children's fiction and for mystery fiction, and has also written ''sequels'' to Jane Austen books. She collaborated with her daughter to write many episodes of her Arabel and Mortimer the raven series for the BBC. In all, Aiken wrote 92 novels - including 27 for adults - as well as plays, poems and short stories, although she was best known as a writer of children's stories. Joan Aiken died in January of 2004 at the age of 79. (Bowker Author Biography) — biography from The Wolves of Willoughby Chase… (more)
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Short biography
Joan Aiken was an English writer who received the MBE for services to Children's Literature. She was known as a writer of wild fantasy, Gothic novels and short stories.

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 United Nations Information Office during the second world war, and then as an editor and freelance on Argosy magazine before she started writing full time, mainly children's books and thrillers. For her books she received the Guardian Award (1969) and the Edgar Allan Poe Award (1972).

Her most popular series, the "Wolves Chronicles" which began with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, was set in an elaborate alternate period of history in a Britain in which James II was never deposed in the Glorious Revolution,and so supporters of the House of Hanover continually plot to overthrow the Stuart Kings. These books also feature cockney urchin heroine Dido Twite and her adventures and travels all over the world.

Another series of children's books about Arabel and her raven Mortimer are illustrated by Quentin Blake, and have been shown on the BBC as Jackanory and drama series. Others including the much loved Necklace of Raindrops and award winning Kingdom Under the Sea 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. 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.
Disambiguation notice

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Joan Aiken's book The People in the Castle: Selected Strange Stories was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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