Joan Delano Aiken was born in Rye, East Sussex, into a family of writers, including her father, Conrad Aiken (who won a Pulitzer Prize for his poetry), and her sister, Jane Aiken Hodge. She worked for the United Nations Information Office during the second world war,and then as an editor and freelance on Argosy magazine before she took up writing full time. Her celebrated books earned her the prestigious Guardian Award in 1969 and, later, the Edgar Allan Poe Award (1972).
Her most popular series, the Wolves Chronicles, was set in an elaborate alternate period of history in a Britain in which James II was never deposed in the Glorious Revolution, and so supporters of the House of Hanover continually plot to overthrow the Stuart Kings. This period of alternate history is also distinguished by a mass migration of hungry wolves from mainland Europe to the British Isles, via the newly-built Channel Tunnel from Calais to Dover.
Aiken married the New York landscape painter and teacher Julius Goldstein in 1976. They divided their time between her home, The Hermitage in Petworth, West Sussex, and New York. Together they had two children. In 2004, Aiken died at home at the age of 79.
Author's Comment: Why do we want to have alternate worlds? It's a way of making progress. You have to imagine something before you do it.