Joan Aiken was an English writer specialising in supernatural fiction and children’s alternate history novels. In 1999 she was awarded an MBE for her services to children’s literature. Joan Aiken produced more than a hundred books, including more than a dozen collections of fantasy stories, plays and poems, and modern and historical novels for adults and children. She was a lifelong fan of ghost stories.
She had an unusual ability to write for all ages with such a fine sense of the differences between her audiences that she could match the content and the style exactly to the reader. Her stories for the very young are lucid, but with no apparent sacrifice of her hallmark use of language, or the apparently effortless invention which allowed her to heap one adventure on top of another without anything toppling over.
For The Whispering Mountain, published by Jonathan Cape in 1968, she won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children’s writers, and she was a commended runner-up for the Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year’s best children’s book by a British subject. She won an Edgar Allan Poe Award (1972) for Night Fall.