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Aiken, Joan

adults mansfield willoughby chase

(British, 1924–2004)

Joan Aiken, born in Rye, Sussex, wrote children's books which can be read with equal pleasure by adults who still have an imagination. Her best known is probably The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1962), in which she imagines a strange, dark Victorian England, like a Dickensian fairytale, where wolves prowl the countryside and it seems to be perpetual winter. Three children, Bonnie, Sylvia, and Simon, join forces in remote Willoughby Chase to oppose the unutterably evil governess, Miss Slighcarp. The illustrations by Pat Marriott are marvellous. See also the sequel, Black Hearts in Battersea (1964), in which the story continues, aided and abetted by hot-air balloons, and the eccentric old Duke of Battersea himself. Her writing for adults includes Mansfield Revisited (1984), a continuation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, and the savage stories in The Windscreen Weepers (1969).

Mervyn Peake, Susan Hill, Charles Dickens  CH

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