Joan Delano Aiken: Contribution as British Writer

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      Joan Delano Aiken (1924-2004) — British writer of historical romances, thrillers and imaginative adventure-fiction for children (children's books). Born in Sussex, the daughter of American poet Conrad Aiken, she was educated at home and read widely (especially Austen, Scott, the Brontes, Dickens and Poe, whose influences are apparent). She supported her children as a copy-writer after her first husband died in 1955, before winning acclaim for several juvenile mysteries including The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1962), a fairy tale set in a Britain ruled by descendants of Bonnie Prince Charlie and haunted by ravening wolves. Many stories rely on fantasy and magic: A Necklace of Raindrops and Other Stories (1968) features egglaying houses and flying pies baked with sky.

      Joan Aiken's adult novels of intrigue (A Cluster of Separate Sparks,1972) and regency romances (The Five-Minute Marriage, 1977) indulge the romance of place. She has written four companion books to the novels of Jane Austen. (Eliza's Daughter (1994) invents a story for Willoughby's misguided victim from Pride and Prejudice; Emma Watson (1996) rewrites Austen's fragment, The Watsons.) Recent children's fiction (Cold Shoulder Road, 1995) continues familiar themes of mysterious disappearances, child abduction and miraculous rescue. Aiken remarried and lives in Sussex and New York.

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