'Wait, wait! Save us! What'll we do?' Simon is determined to become a painter when he grows up so he sets off to London to make his fortune. But the city is plagued by wolves and mysterious disappearances. The Twite household, where Simon is lodging, seems particularly shifty. Before he even gets a chance to open his glistening new paints Simon stumbles right into the centre of a plot to kill the King. And worse than that Simon is kidnapped and sent to sea! Luckily there are two friendly stowaways aboard - the feisty Dido Twite and the spoiled young Justin. But when the ship catches fire things look pretty dire. Can they escape? Will they save the king in time? BACKSTORY: Test your kwledge of Black Hearts in Battersea and play the name game.
Joan Aiken was born in Sussex in 1924. She was the daughter of the American poet, Conrad Aiken; her sister, Jane Aiken Hodge, is also a novelist. Before joining the 'family business' herself, Joan had a variety of jobs, including working for the BBC, the United Nations Information Centre and then as features editor for a short story magazine. Her first children's novel, The Kingdom of the Cave, was published in 1960. Joan Aiken wrote over a hundred books for young readers and adults and is recognized as one of the classic authors of the twentieth century. Amanda Craig, writing in The Times, said, 'She was a consummate story-teller, one that each generation discovers anew.' Her best-known books are those in the James III saga, of which The Wolves of Willoughby Chase was the first title, published in l962 and awarded the Lewis Carroll prize. Both that and Black Hearts in Battersea have been filmed. Her books are internationally acclaimed and she received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in the United States as well as the Guardian Award for Fiction in this country for The Whispering Mountain. Joan Aiken was decorated with an MBE for her services to children's books. She died in 2004.