Dame Jacqueline Wilson
, DBE, (born 17 December 1945) is an
English author of over 90 children's books and professorial fellow
of Roehampton University. Currently one of the bestselling authors
in the United Kingdom, her books have won a range of major awards
and have been adapted for television and stage.
Life and education
Wilson was born Jacqueline Aitken in Bath, Somerset. Her
father was a civil servant, her mother an antiques dealer.
Wilson spent most of her childhood in Kingston upon Thames, where
she went to Latchmere Primary School. Wilson was an imaginative
child and enjoyed reading and making up stories. She particularly
enjoyed books by Noel Streatfield, as well as American classics like
Little Women and What Katy Did.
Even as young as six and seven, Wilson knew that she wanted to be a
writer and would fill Woolworths notebooks with stories of her
Jacqueline Wilson reads from My Secret Diary
At the age of nine she wrote her first "novel"
which was twenty pages long.
The book was called Meet the Maggots about a family with seven
children. Although she was good at English, however, the young
Wilson had no interest in maths and would often stare out of the
window and use her imagination rather than paying attention to the
class, leading her final year teacher at Latchmere to nickname her
"Jacky Daydream". Wilson later used this nickname as the title of
the first stage of her autobiography.
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Apart from in English, Wilson did not do particularly well at
school and had to re-take her 11+ exam in order to pass. After
Latchmere, she moved on to Coombe Girls' School, which she still
visits to this day. Kingston University has named the main hall at
its Penrhyn Road campus "Jacqueline Wilson Hall" in recognition of
her connections with Kingston upon Thames
Having left school at sixteen, Wilson started training as a
secretary but then applied to work with the Dundee-based publishing
company DC Thomson on a new girls' magazine Jackie.
DC Thomson offered the 17 year old a job after she penned a piece on
the horrors of teenage discos. Wilson therefore moved to Scotland.
An urban myth that the magazine was named after her has been
perpetuated by the author in promotional work even though this has
been denied by those who were involved in the launch.
In Scotland, Wilson fell in love with a printer called William
Millar Wilson. He then joined the police force and the couple moved
south for his work, marrying in 1965 when Wilson was 19. Two years
later, they had a daughter, Emma.
Wilson focused on her writing, initially writing a few crime
fiction books before dedicating herself to writing for children. At
the age of 40, she took A level English, passing with a grade A.
Wilson had mixed success with some forty books before rising to fame
in 1991 with The Story of Tracy Beaker. In 2004 Wilson's
marriage was dissolved after her husband of three decades left her.
Wilson lives in a handsome Victorian villa in Kingston upon
Thames. The house is filled with books as she remains a keen reader,
getting through a book a week despite her hectic schedule. In her
adult tastes, Wilson's favourite writers include Katherine Mansfield
and Sylvia Plath.
As the owner of some 15,000 books, Wilson had to buy the outbuilding
at the bottom of her garden to house her library.
She also surrounds herself with old-fashioned childhood objects such
as a rocking horse and a number of antique dolls. Wilson also has a
unique taste in clothes and jewellery. She is known for wearing
black clothes and an array of large rings.
She swims fifty lengths each day before breakfast.
Wilson's books are realistic portrayal of modern British children
facing problems in their daily lives, ranging from the death of a
pet (The Cat Mummy) to divorce (The Suitcase Kid),
homelessness (The Bed and Breakfast Star), abuse (Secrets),
grief (Vicky Angel) and difficult subjects parents may
refrain from talking about, such as homosexuality (Kiss). Her
books are usually illustrated by Nick Sharratt, and Sharratt's ink
drawings and colourful cover designs have come to be associated with
her work. Her work also often has characters from her own stories
appearing in her other books, such as in Dustbin Baby,
Best Friends, and Cliffhanger.
The majority of her books are written in the first person
narrative, although some, such as Twin Trouble, are written
in third person. One, the previously mentioned Secrets, is,
though in first person, from the point of view of the two main
characters, in alternative chapters, much like her other book The
Girls in Love, Best Friends, Double Act,
The Illustrated Mum and The Story of Tracy Beaker have
been adapted as popular TV series.
Over 25 million copies of Wilson's books have been sold in the UK
alone. In a poll
conducted by the BBC, The Big Read, four books by Jacqueline
Wilson were voted in the top 100 most popular books in Britain:
Double Act, Girls In Love, Vicky Angel, and The
Story of Tracy Beaker. In the list of the UK's 200 favourite
books there are 14 books by Jacqueline Wilson. In 2004 she replaced
Catherine Cookson as the most borrowed author in Britain's
libraries, a position she retained for four years until she was
overtaken by James Patterson in 2008.
Wilson has won many awards, including the Smarties Prize, and the
Guardian Children's Fiction Award. The Illustrated Mum won
the Guardian Children's Fiction Award and the 1999 Children's Book
of the Year at the British Book Awards. It was also shortlisted for
the 1999 Whitbread Children's Book Award. The Story of Tracy
Beaker won the 2002 Blue Peter People's Choice Award.
In June 2002, Jacqueline Wilson was given an OBE for services to
literacy in schools, and from 2005 to 2007 she was the fourth
Children's Laureate. In this role, Wilson urged writers to make more
books available for the blind ad also campaigned against cutbacks in
children's TV drama.
In October 2005 she received an Honorary Degree from the
University of Winchester in recognition of her achievements in and
on behalf of children's literature. In July 2007 she received an
Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Letters) from Roehampton University in
recognition of her achievements in and on behalf of children's
literature. She is also the recipient of Honorary Degrees from the
University of Dundee and Kingston University.
In the New Year Honours 2008, Jacqueline Wilson was made a Dame
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).
In June 2008 Wilson was appointed professorial Fellow of
She will be teaching modules on both the Children's Literature MA
and the Creative Writing MA offered by the university.
Adaptations of her novels
The following books have been adaptated for TV:
- Double Act (2002, Channel 4) Starring twins Zoe and
Chloe Tempest-Jones as Ruby and Garnet, with a special
appearance by Jacqueline Wilson as the casting director at the
auditions. This was a one-off 100 min feature.
- The Story of Tracy Beaker (TV series) (2002-2005,
CBBC). Starring Dani Harmer as Tracy and Lisa Coleman (whose
sister, Charlotte, appeared in Double Act as Miss
Debenham) as Cam.
- The Illustrated Mum (2003, Channel 4). Starring
former EastEnders star Michelle Collins as Marigold
Westward, Alice Connor as Dolphin Westward and Holly Grainger as
Star Westward. This was a four-part miniseries but later shown
as a full feature with no ad breaks. It was again repeated at
- Best Friends (2004, ITV). This was a six-part
miniseries with a slightly different ending. Starring Chloe
Smyth as Gemma and Poppy Rogers as Alice.
- Girls in Love (ITV). Starring Olivia Hallinan as
Ellie, Zaraah Abrahams as Magda and Amy Kwolek as Nadine. There
have been two series of Girls in Love broadcast.
- 1992 Mark Spark
- 1993 Mark Spark in the Dark
- 1993 Mark Spark returns
These books were written to help teach younger children to read.
- 1994 Freddy's Teddy
- 1994 Teddy in the Garden
- 1994 Teddy Goes Swimming
- 1994 Come Back Teddy!'
- 1994 Teddy at the Fair
- 1991 The Story of Tracy Beaker
- 2000 The Dare Game
- 2006 Starring Tracy Beaker
- 2009 Tracy Beaker's Thumping Heart
- 1991 The Werepuppy
- 1994 The Werepuppy on Holiday
- 1997 Girls In Love
- 1998 Girls under Pressure
- 1999 Girls out Late
- 2002 Girls in Tears
- 1995 Cliffhanger
- 1998 Buried Alive!
- 1969 Ricky's Birthday
- 1972 Hide and Seek
- 1973 Truth or Dare
- 1974 Snap
- 1976 Let's Pretend
- 1977 Making Hate
- 1982 Nobody's Perfect
- 1983 Waiting for the Sky to Fall
- 1984 The Killer Tadpole
- 1984 The Other Side
- 1984 The School Trip
- 1985 How to Survive Summer Camp
- 1986 Amber
- 1986 The Monster in the Cupboard
- 1987 Lonelyhearts
- 1987 Supersleuth
- 1987 The Power of the Shade
- 1988 Rat Race
- 1988 This Girl
- 1988 Vampire
- 1989 Falling Apart
- 1989 The Left Outs
- 1989 The Party in the Lift
- 1990 Glubbslyme
- 1990 Take a Good Look
- 1991 The Dream Palace
- 1992 The Suitcase Kid
- 1992 Video Rose
- 1993 Deep Blue
- 1993 The Mum-Minder
- 1994 The Bed And Breakfast Star
- 1994 Twin Trouble
- 1995 The Dinosaur's Packed Lunch
- 1995 Double Act
- 1995 Elsa, Star of the Shelter
- 1995 Jimmy Jelly
- 1995 Love from Katie
- 1995 My Brother Bernadette
- 1995 Sophie's Secret Diary
- 1996 Bad Girls
- 1996 Beauty and the Beast
- 1996 Connie and the Water Babies
- 1996 Mr. Cool
- 1997 The Lottie Project
- 1997 The Monster Story-Teller
- 1998 Rapunzel
- 1999 The Illustrated Mum
- 1999 Monster Eyeballs
- 2000 Lizzie Zipmouth
- 2000 Vicky Angel
- 2001 The Cat Mummy
- 2001 Sleepovers
- 2001 Dustbin Baby
- 2002 Secrets
- 2002 The Worry Website
- 2003 Lola Rose
- 2004 Midnight
- 2004 Best Friends
- 2004 The Diamond Girls
- 2005 Clean Break
- 2005 Love Lessons
- 2006 Candyfloss
- 2007 Jacky Daydream (autobiography)
- 2007 Kiss
- 2007 Totally Jacqueline Wilson
- 2008 My Sister Jodie
- 2008 Cookie
- 2009 My Secret Diary