Before embarking on Dido Twite’s voyage to South America and discovering what she did there, I thought I might share with you this archive Puffin Club film from around 1970 or 1971. It’s about the origins of the Wolves Chronicles, as shared with members of the Puffin Club.
In it Joan Aiken, then in her forties, introduces those young readers to the first few books in the saga — The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Black Hearts in Battersea, Night Birds in Nantucket and the then imminent The Cuckoo Tree, published in 1971. We see her on the Sussex Downs, in her house in Petworth (a young Lizza Aiken, her daughter and co-author of the Arabel and Mortimer tales, puts in an appearance) and the tree that gave its name to the book she was then working on.
To accompany her account there are reconstructions and readings from the books, all very much redolent of the period in which the film was made, illustrated by the talented Pat Marriot. My thanks to Lizza Aiken for drawing attention to this exquisite and atmospheric short, available at http://www.joanaiken.com/pages/funstuff_movie.html (or just click on the image above). For new readers and seasoned Dido fans alike this will be a real treat.
As well as the official Joan Aiken website — a gorgeously interactive and attractive resource — there is a wonderfully entertaining and informative blog written by Lizza Aiken at http://joanaiken.wordpress.com which I urge you to visit and, hopefully, follow.
The Puffin Club was dreamt up by Kaye Webb, the long-established editor of Puffin Books; it lasted from 1967 to 1989 before, sadly, being disbanded. For more on the Puffin Club go to http://puffinclubarchive.blogspot.co.uk/ and http://puffinclub.co.uk/