Born in 1924 in Sussex, England, to the American poet Conrad Aiken and Canadian-born Jessie (McDonald) Aiken, young adult author and illustrator, Joan Aiken has written over thirty-five titles for young adults and over twenty for adults. She has also contributed short stories and reviews to Argosy, Everywoman, John Bull, Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Housewife, Vanity Fair, New Statesman, Woman's Own, Woman's Journal, and History Today. Aiken even wrote a how-to book intended to guide authors for young adults entitled The Way to Write for Children.
After her first husband, Ronald George Brown, succumbed to lung cancer in 1955, Aiken found herself responsible for herself and her two children. During those dark years after Brown's death, Aiken took jobs as a copy editor with Argosy magazine and later, the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency. During the 1960s Aiken came into her own as an author, winning popular and critical acclaim for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Whispering Mountain, Black Hearts in Battersea, and Nightbirds on Nantucket. Willoughby Chase won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and in 1969 Aiken won America's Edgar Allen Poe Award in juvenile mystery for Night Fall.
Joan Aiken died in 2004