Many thanks to all of you who have visited and shared your thoughts here throughout the year!
I do hope you will come again – and bring your friends… Here is a poem and drawing by Joan to celebrate the passing of Winter and the return of Spring.
Visit the website to see more of Joan’s Art
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 1952, 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 idea, and managed to sell the story to Housewife magazine, who sent a photographer and thereby preserved these pictures for posterity!
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.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.
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, 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 first collection, to be published in 1953, and rather suitably entitled:
“All You’ve Ever Wanted”
Read more about Joan’s early life and first book on the
Picture Timeline on the Website
Joan’s answer to this was that ‘One needs to be always on the lookout – It is a case of selection of suitable ingredients out of the mass that flows past every day – things said by people, overheard conversations, things read in the papers, heard on the news, seen in the street…’
She wrote a poem that illustrates this perfectly, describing an everyday walk down a small street in Petworth where she lived. Here it is.
Joan published only one book of poetry, but she wrote many for her own (and the family’s!) pleasure. To my delight they still tumble out of books..