The story so far …

Joan Aiken introduces the Wolves Chronicles in this Puffin Club movie

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 (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 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 and

6 thoughts on “The story so far …

  1. This little film is a TREASURE! I am eternally grateful to Kaye Webb and Puffin books…whenever I want I can spend an afternoon with Joan, walk on the Downs with her, and go back to my old home and see her typing in the kitchen.

    Thank you for kind words about the website – it’s my happy contribution, a virtual Aiken museum open all hours to very welcome visitors!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t praise the website enough, one of the best if not the best set of author pages, colourful, witty, playful and informative. The timelines are beautifully laid out, and the taster blurbs for each title are pitched just right. I could gush on and on …

      And to be able to share just a little of her life in this way feels a rare privilege — thanks so much, Lizza.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lizza had pointed it out last year but for some reason I only watched the very beginning. I’m so glad I took the opportunity to see it in full. Yes, it’s a very special site!


    1. I keep promising myself we’ll visit Sussex and the South Downs before too long! I was actually born there, in what’s now West Sussex, but was only in Littlehampton for about six months before setting off on my travels. And of course, like you, I would have beem totally unaware of Joan then!


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