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Joan Aiken

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 3 months ago





Joan Aiken










About Me:


I was born in Rye, Sussex on September 4 1924.  My father Conrad Aiken was a well known American Poet and won the 1930 Pulitzer Prize for his Selected Poems.  My mother and step-father were also writers.  I had a lot of alone time as a child, which gave me a chance to write often.  I was home-schooled until the age of 12 when I went to a boarding school in Oxford.  In 1945 I married Ronald Brown, and we had two children.  He sadly died of illness in 1955.  I got married again in 1976 to Julius Goldstein, an American painter.  When I’m not writing, I enjoy painting and gardening at my home in Petworth, Sussex.


My Career:


 I began writing at the age of 5 and finished my first novel at the age of 16.  I got my first job at BBC which broadcast some of my first short stories.  After my husband died I got a job at Argosy magazine, and then began writing advertising jingles at another company.   In 1963 I finished The Wolves of Willoughby Chase which brought enough success I was able to quit my job.  In 1969 my novel The Whispering Mountain won the Guardian Children's Book Award, and in 1972 Night Fall won America's Edgar Allan Poe Award for juvenile mystery.


My Quote:


"Stories are like butterflies, which come fluttering out of nowhere, touch down for a brief instant, may be captured, may not, and then vanish into nowhere again."




My biggest influences as a writer were John Masefield's The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights, they influenced me very much in my first full-length novel. But I also had other influences since I read so much as a child -- E.E. Nesbit, Francis Hodgson Burnett, Charles Dickens, Saki, James Thurber, and Edgar Allan Poe.


My Work:


I have written many short stories, poems, novels, and anthologies.





Short Stories:



Down Below

29 October 2001


     There's a deep secret place, dark in the hold of this ship

A fine, private place, if one could get down there and hide 

A whoel crossword puzzle of ladder and corridor lies

Between that world and the white decks, the smooth wide

Expanse of holystone and elbowgrace and pride.

     Could one get downw there; but that's quite out of the question

I'll tell you why: clambering down to the door

Through these hot, narrow regions, you notice more and more strongly

A green growing odour seeping up through the floor

And the damp solid breath of mould, savagely pure.

     That dooor can't be opened; it's blocked tight shut inside

Crammed against earth adn greenery, all intertwined- -

Roses, perhaps? The ship is listing, but skipper, 

Though the hold should be cleared, is afraid of what we'd find,

He believes there's stowaways down there - - but, good lord, what kind?  


Down Below

A analysis of the poem offered by Lara


Sources Cited


Last Updated:


January 4, 2004









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