Joan Delano Aiken was born on September 4th, 1924, in Sussex, England, the daughter of American writer Conrad Aiken and Canadian writer Jessie McDonald Aiken. When Ms. Aiken was five years old, her mother divorced Conrad Aiken and later married another writer, Martin Armstrong. Joan Aiken’s sister, Jane Aiken Hodge is also a writer.
Aiken was homeschooled for 12 years before going to a public school. Her mother read to her and later Ms. Aiken devoured E. Nesbit, Francis Hodgson Burnett, Charles Dickens, Saki, James Thurber, and Edgar Allan Poe.
She wrote her first novel at age 17. Several of her short stories were broadcast on the BBC’s Children’s Hour that same year.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, an alternate history, received the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. Night Fall was given the Edgar Award for juvenile mysteries in 1969. In 1969, she also received the Guardian Children’s Book Award for The Whispering Mountain. Look for the reissue of Go Saddle the Sea and the rest of the trilogy … a great adventure tale.
The New Yorker said of her, “Joan Aiken writes with the genius of a born storyteller, with mother wit expanded and embellished by civilized learning, and with the brilliance of an avenging angel.” Joan Aiken died in January of 2004, stilling an amazingly original voice.