We lived in a bus…! Joan Aiken and Family at home.

Bus 52

Taken 70 years ago, this is one of very few complete family photos that shows Joan Aiken, husband Ron Brown, son and daughter, John and Elizabeth, and cat – in this case Taffy – all together in 1951, and necessarily rather cosy too – as we were living in a bus!  Housing was hard to find after World War II for impecunious young couples, so Joan came up with this practical idea, and managed to sell the story to Housewife magazine, who sent a photographer and thereby preserved these pictures for posterity!

Bus text1

Having a garden was just as important as a roof over their heads, as food was still rationed, so Joan spent a good deal of time growing vegetables, and writing, while Ron still travelled up to ‘Town’ by train, working for the Reuters New Agency.

Bus collage

Even in this tiny space, Joan’s creativity found full expression; endlessly inventive, she used her painting, sewing and practical  skills of every kind to make this little home entirely her own; many of her hand painted furnishings lasted for decades.

Bus text2

The bus was immortalised in many of Joan’s stories in later years, not least in “A Necklace of Raindrops” where even the cat turns out to have magical properties when he sits on the mat. 

Meanwhile she put it into a Christmas card for her mother and step-father, (in 1950 before the birth of the last arrival!) with a thank-you poem for a delivery of warm winter wear, made by her equally practical mother:


Joan was also working on a collection of  magical short stories which would form her very first collection, to be published in 1953, and  rather suitably entitled:

“All You’ve Ever Wanted”

Many of these and other favourite Joan Aiken Stories can now be found in

The Gift Giving from Virago Books

The Gift Giving copy

     *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *

Read more about Joan’s early life and first book on the

Picture Timeline on the Website

7 thoughts on “We lived in a bus…! Joan Aiken and Family at home.

  1. How fascinating! No wonder many of the stories in A Necklace of Raindrops featured a bus! And almost always a vey colorful one. I especially remember the one about the artistic little girl living on a bus with her grandmother and how the bus flew away at the end. A Necklace of Raindrops was my favourite book as a child and when my son was little I read it to him many times. How old was your mother in these photos? She looks to be her in early twenties.


  2. Hello Laurie! Yes she was about twenty eight, and sadly her husband, my father was to die only a couple of years later, leaving her to make a living for us all from her writing.

    Do click Follow below to be notified of more posts, and also explore the archive – lots more about Joan’s life and books.


  3. Such a lovely post, Lizza, it must for you be very nostalgic and for us so very romantic (though of course tinged by sadness when your father died). Just one thing puzzles me: apart from the visiting sparrows, the list — of Taffy the Cat, and Joan, and Ron, and Small John — seems to be deficient in one Elizabeth!


  4. The poem was written the Christmas before I was born, and in fact I’m celebrating a day early here for actual birthday tomorrow – but that short bald-ish person in the little chair at the top is me! Yes they are all gone now, very sad, so all the nicer to have the pictures.


  5. Pingback: Wolves…the beginning | Joan Aiken

Leave a Comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s