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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 13:52 GMT
Children's writer Joan Aiken dies
Aiken wrote more than 100 books
Children's writer Joan Aiken, author of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, has died aged 79.

She died on 4 January at her home in Petworth, West Sussex, her family said. No cause of death was given.

Her most famous works were characterised by suspense and horror and included The Whispering Mountain and The Winter Sleepwalker.

The author sent her last manuscript, The Witch of Clatteringshaws, to her publisher just days before her death.

She was born in Rye, in south England, to the American poet Conrad Aiken and his Canadian wife Jessie McDonald.

Short stories

Educated at home until the age of 12, she completed the manuscript of her first novel at the age of 16.

After failing the entrance exam for Oxford University's Somerville College, she worked for several organizations, including the BBC and the short-story magazine Argosy.

Her first book of short stories, All You've Ever Wanted, was published when she was 18, followed by More Than You Bargained For.

Later, she read children's stories on the BBC TV programme Jackanory and was active in the Puffin Club, which promoted reading among children.

In 1999, she was awarded the OBE for services to children's literature.

Her most famous book, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, tells of two girls in an English country house, and it mixes Victorian melodrama with tongue-in-cheek humour.

She wrote more than 100 books in total, with Bone and Dream, The Scream, Ghostly Beasts, In Thunder's Pocket and Lady Catherine's Necklace, all published in the last four years.


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