Ghostly Visions – An Inspired Relationship

Ill Wind

Jan Pienkowski’s vision &  Joan Aiken’s story ‘An Ill Wind’  from ‘A Foot in the Grave’

Ill Windstory

Today sees the publication of an elegant new edition of Joan Aiken and Jan Pienkowski’s ghostly collaboration  A Foot in The Grave is coming out just in time for Hallowe’en… for those who enjoy all things haunting and mysterious here are Jan’s atmospheric illustrations and Joan’s eight extraordinary tales.

The partnership between Aiken and Pienkowski has produced some memorable books, A Necklace of Raindrops,  which many remember as their favourite children’s book, or The Kingdom under the Sea which won the Kate Greenaway Medal. This collection of spooky stories for older readers was suggested by Jan, knowing Joan’s wild imagination would be fired by his series of images, and she certainly rose to the challenge. The Kirkus review said: ‘ One of Britain’s most innovative illustrators provides inspiration for a skilled fantasy writer…luminous, tantalizing…menacing…mysterious’

See Joan’s books at the Random House Joan Aiken page



6 thoughts on “Ghostly Visions – An Inspired Relationship

  1. Have ordered Kenning Magic too, and looking forward to it!

    As for the new edition of A Foot in the Grave I must look out for that as I never got round to it before. Related to this, I have a question. The Winter Sleepwalker has some lovely illustrations by Quentin Blake (they come over well even in the monochrome paperback edition I have) but a note at the beginning says that the quirky stories were inspired by some Jan Pienkowski paintings. And yet we never see them! Are they available anywhere? Attractive though the Blake pictures are I wish we could appreciate the original trigger for Joan’s tales.

    • I don’t know the full history – sadly in the end those pictures of Jan’s weren’t used, and it was many years later when he was working on this new edition of A Foot in The Grave that Jan brought out the picture above, which had been the original inspiration for Joan’s story Blazing Shadows in what became The Winter Sleepwalker collection. You may recognise the inspiration for Trilla, and the geese bewitched by Mrs Hatecraft. But in a wonderful reversal of fortunes we agreed it perfectly suited the character of Cherry in this story about bewitching, and so Jan’s haunting picture has found its place at last.
      But Quentin Blake’s illustrations for The Winter Sleepwalker are utterly beautiful, and should be seen in colour – the recent new edition of that collection is an absolute joy! I can feel another post coming on…

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