Preston children’s book author dies aged 77

Joseph Delaney

The family of Joseph Delaney announced his death on Tuesday August 16 at the age of 77 following an illness, leaving behind his second wife, Rani, (his first wife Marie died in 2007), two sons and a daughter, and her grandchildren.


While earning his bachelor’s degree in night school, Joe worked as an apprentice engineer and fitter and became a teacher.

He enjoyed writing children’s books and later published The Spook’s Apprentice in 2004.

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After leaving teaching, he wrote 12 more books in his world’s best-selling dark fantasy series, The Wardstone Chronicles, and 17 other books.

The books have been translated into thirty languages ​​and have won numerous awards, including the Lancashire Book Award.

In 2014, The Spook’s Apprentice became a movie called The Seventh Son starring Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges. Joe had to travel to Canada to watch the shoot, which he absolutely loved.

He traveled extensively to promote his books, spending much of the winter in New Zealand and Singapore as he hated the cold, but most of his time was spent in his home county of Lancashire, a place integrated into all his writings.

Joe wrote until the end of his life and was about to embark on the next set of edits for the fourth in his Brother Wulf streak.

His books have now sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide.

Joe’s children Joanne, Paul and Stephen said: ‘Dad loved to write and has lived his dream for the past eighteen years as a Random House and Penguin published author.

“His imagination was boundless and he could have continued to create exciting new stories for years. He loved meeting fans from all over the world and hearing their thoughts on his books.

“We are very proud of what he has accomplished. There is a lot of dad in his writings, and you see it on every page. When we were young children, Dad told us very scary stories that shouldn’t have been told after dark! We are so lucky to have these memories.

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“He was a wonderful father and a deeply caring man with an infectious sense of humor, especially after a glass of red wine.

“We hope her books will inspire children and adults to create stories and live their own dreams. It would have made him happy.

“We would like to thank Penguin Random House and all the wonderful people who have helped him on his journey and especially everyone who has read his books.”

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Ruth Knowles, Managing Editor of Puffin, said: “The Spook’s Apprentice was first published just before I joined Random House Children’s Books (now Penguin Random House Children’s) and so Joe and his totally unique blend of fantasy and horror have been part of my entire professional life.

“I was so proud to have been his editor for many years. It was frustrating at times – we would meet for a beer in Manchester and in response to my questions he would just smile and remind me each time he was following “The Bram Stoker” method of writing (meaning nothing was never planned or plotted in advance!) so I had to wait for answers – but it was also of course completely magical as the creatures and characters of its worlds slowly came into focus, traveling on brilliantly terrifying adventures .

“I hope he is now with the ghosts of his beloved Lancashire and there is delicious red wine on tap. We are so proud to publish it.

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