Joan Aiken Bio

Tue 28 Oct 2008 - Filed under: Authors | Leave a Comment

Joan AikenJoan Aiken
(1924—2004) was born in Rye, Sussex, England, into a literary family: her father was the poet and writer Conrad Aiken and her siblings, the novelists Jane Aiken Hodge and John Aiken. After her parents’ divorce her mother married the popular English writer Martin Armstrong.

Aiken began writing at the age of five and her first collection of stories, All You’ve Ever Wanted (which included the first Armitage family stories), was published in 1953. After her first husband’s death, Aiken supported her family by copyediting at Argosy and working at an advertising agency before turning full time to writing fiction. She went on to write for Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Vanity Fair, Women’s Own, and many other magazines.

She wrote over a hundred books (including The Way to Write for Children) and was perhaps best known for the dozen novels in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase series. She received the Guardian and Edgar Allan Poe awards for fiction and in 1999 she was awarded an MBE for her contributions to children’s literature.

Author photo by Rod Delroy.

About Lizza Aiken

Born into a family of writers (grandfather Conrad Aiken, mother Joan Aiken) Lizza rebelled by becoming a mime and going to study in Paris with master teachers Etienne Decroux and Jacques LeCoq. She toured with fringe theatre groups appearing at International Theatre Festivals all over Europe in the 1970s and ’80s, performing with Hesitate and Demonstrate at London’s ICA Theatre and for Joseph Papp at the Public Theatre New York. Married to osteopath David Charlaff, and then mother of two she settled in Highgate, London and directed Youth Theatre groups and wrote screenplays for Children’s BBC TV based on Joan Aiken’s popular Arabel & Mortimer stories. Lizza is now curating the Joan Aiken literary estate and designing the official website for this much loved writer at

About Andi Watson

Andi Watson (ljFlickr) grew up in Yorkshire. He wanted to be a mechanic when he grew up but having no aptitude for anything practical, drew and drew and drew instead. He drew at school, at college and for his degree. Then he began drawing comics, which required even more drawing but with the added difficulty of writing.

When he isn’t drawing comics he’s drawing illustrations.

He likes to draw and lives with his wife and daughter in Worcester, England.


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