Jacqueline Wilson

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Dame Jacqueline Wilson
Jacqueline Wilson.JPG
Wilson in 2009
Born Jacqueline Aitken
(1945-12-17) 17 December 1945 (age 71)
Bath, Somerset
Occupation Writer
Nationality English
Period 1969–present
Genre Realist children's novels
Notable works
The Story of Tracy Beaker
Notable awards Guardian Prize
British Book Award
2000, 2003
Spouse Millar Wilson (1965-2004)
Children 1

Dame Jacqueline Wilson, DBE, FRSL (born 17 December 1945) is an English writer of children's literature. As her children's novels are frequently themed around adoption, divorce and mental illness, they attract controversy.[1] For her lifetime contribution as a children's writer, Wilson was a UK nominee for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2014.[2]

Wilson is the author of many book series. Her Tracy Beaker series, inaugurated in 1991 with The Story of Tracy Beaker, includes three sequels and has been adapted into four CBBC television series: The Story of Tracy Beaker, Tracy Beaker Returns, The Dumping Ground and The Tracy Beaker Survival Files.

Life and career[edit]

Jacqueline Wilson was born in Bath, Somerset, in 1945. Her father was a civil servant; her mother was an antiques dealer.[3] Jacqueline spent most of her childhood in Kingston upon Thames, where she went to Latchmere Primary School. She was an imaginative child who enjoyed both reading and inventing stories. She particularly enjoyed books by Noel Streatfeild, as well as American classics like Little Women and What Katy Did.[4] As early as aged seven, she filled Woolworths notebooks with stories of her imaginary games. At the age of nine she wrote her first "novel" which was 21 sides long.[5] That story, Meet the Maggots, was about a family with seven children. Although she was good at English, she had no interest in mathematics; she would often stare out of the window and imagine rather than pay attention to the class, leading her final-year teacher at Latchmere to nickname her "Jacky Daydream". Jacqueline Wilson later used the nickname as the title of the first stage of her autobiography.[citation needed]

She did very well at school. After Latchmere, she attended Coombe Girls' School, which she still visits regularly. A lecture hall at Kingston University's Penrhyn Road campus has been named after her.[6] After leaving school at age 16, she began training as a secretary but then applied to work with the Dundee-based publishing company DC Thomson on a new girls' magazine, Jackie.[7] DC Thomson offered the 17-year-old a job after she penned a piece on the horrors of teen discos. She fell in love with a printer named Millar Wilson. When he joined the police force, the couple moved south for his work, marrying in 1965 when Jackie was 19. Two years later, they had a daughter, Emma.[7] They divorced in 2004.[8][9]

When Wilson focused on writing, she completed a few crime fiction novels before dedicating herself to children's books. At the age of 40, she took A-level English and earned a grade A.[8] She had mixed success with about 40 books before the breakthrough to fame in 1991 with The Story of Tracy Beaker, published by Doubleday.

Two decades later, Wilson lives in a Victorian villa in Kingston upon Thames. It is filled with books; her library of some 15,000 books extends into the outbuilding at the bottom of her garden.[10] She remains a keen reader, completing a book a week despite her hectic schedule. Her favourite writers for adults include Katherine Mansfield and Sylvia Plath.[4] She also surrounds herself with old-fashioned childhood objects such as a rocking horse and antique dolls, and has a unique taste in clothes and jewellery, being known for wearing black clothes and an array of large rings.[11]

Wilson is patron of the charity Momentum in Kingston upon Thames,[12] which helps Surrey children undergoing treatment for cancer (and their families), and she is also patron of The Friends of Richmond Park.[13][14] In 2007 Wilson became a patron of the Letterbox Club, a Booktrust

In June 2013, Wilson was appointed Professorial Fellow of the University of Roehampton,[15] where she is now a Pro-Chancellor. She teaches modules in both the Children's Literature and Creative Writing master's degree (MA) programs offered by the university.

In February 2014 it was announced that she will be appointed Chancellor of the University from August 2014.[16]


In "The Big Read", a 2003 poll conducted by the BBC, four of Wilson's books were ranked among the 100 most popular books in Britain: Double Act, Girls In Love, Vicky Angel, and The Story of Tracy Beaker. Fourteen books by Wilson ranked in the top 200. In 2002 she replaced Catherine Cookson as the most borrowed author in Britain's libraries,[17] a position she retained until being overtaken by James Patterson in 2008.[18]

Awards and honours[edit]

Wilson has won many awards including the Smarties Prize and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. The Illustrated Mum (1999) won the annual Guardian Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children's writers,[19] and the annual British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year; it also made the 1999 Whitbread Awards shortlist. The Story of Tracy Beaker won the 2002 Blue Peter People's Choice Award.[clarification needed] Girls in Tears was the Children's Book of the Year at the 2003 British Book Awards.

Two of her books were "Highly Commended" runners-up for the annual Carnegie Medal: The Story of Tracy Beaker (1991) and Double Act (1995).[20][a] (Wilson has not won the annual Medal from British librarians, which recognises the year's best book for children or young adults written by a British subject; recently, simply the best published in the U.K.)

In June 2002, Wilson was given an OBE for services to literacy in schools[21] and from 2005 to 2007 she served as the fourth Children's Laureate.[3][21] In that role Wilson urged parents and child-care providers to continue reading aloud to children long after they are able to read for themselves. She also campaigned to make more books available for blind people and 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 the University of Roehampton awarded her an Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Letters) in recognition of her achievements in and on behalf of children's literature. She has also received honorary degrees from the University of Dundee, the University of Bath and Kingston University.

In the 2008 New Year Honours, Wilson was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).[22]

In July 2012, she was also elected an Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[23]


A dramatisation of Wilson's Double Act, written and directed by Vicky Ireland, was first performed at The Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, London from 30 January to 12 April 2003, and toured throughout the UK. The playscript was published by Collins Plays Plus. Ireland has also written dramatisations of The Lottie Project (performed at Polka Theatre and San Pol Theatre, Madrid), Midnight, Bad Girls and Secrets, which were also commissioned by the Polka Theatre, and a dramatisation of The Suitcase Kid which was performed at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond and later toured throughout the UK. The scripts for these plays were published by Nick Hern Books.

The following books by Wilson have been adapted for TV:

  • Cliffhanger (1995, Channel 4). Part of Look, See and Read, two-part drama.
  • 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-minute feature.
  • The Story of Tracy Beaker (2002–2005, CBBC). Starring Dani Harmer as Tracy and Lisa Coleman (whose sister, Charlotte, appeared in Double Act as Miss Debenham) as Cam. Original broadcast dates: 8 January 2002 – 18 December 2005.
  • The Illustrated Mum (2003, Channel 4). Starring former EastEnders star Michelle Collins as Marigold Westward, who won a BAFTA Award for her role, and who went on to play Stella Price in Coronation Street, Alice Connor as Dolphin Westward and Holly Grainger as Star Westward. This was a four-part mini-series but later shown as a full feature with no ad breaks. It was again repeated at Christmas 2004. Original broadcast date: 5 December 2003.
  • Best Friends (2004, ITV). This was a six-part miniseries, but was originally broadcast as one feature with a slightly different ending. It starred Chloe Smyth as Gemma and Poppy Rogers as Alice. Original broadcast date: 3 December 2004. This was repeated on the CITV Channel on 6 March 2010.
  • 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. Original broadcast dates: 1 April 2003 – 18 April 2005.
  • Dustbin Baby (BBC). Featuring an A-list cast including Juliet Stevenson as Marion, David Haig as a new character, Elliot, and Dakota Blue Richards as April. Original broadcast date: 21 December 2008.
  • Tracy Beaker Returns (2010–2012). This is a series in which Tracy (Dani Harmer) returns to the "Dumping Ground" (Stowey House, whose name has been changed to Elmtree House) to earn money for her new book because she stole Cam's money to publish it. She realises that Elm Tree House has changed loads and the new children act worse than herself in her days. At times, she tries to help the children, concluding in the new social workers almost firing her. But sometimes she only gets the child's part of the story, then being told the whole thing and being totally confused and outraged.
  • The Tracy Beaker Survival Files (2011-2012). A spin-off series where Tracy teaches lessons about various subjects using her stories from the past, and clips from The Story of Tracy Beaker and Tracy Beaker Returns.
  • The Dumping Ground (2013–). The continued life at the Dumping Ground after Tracy Beaker moves on to a new care home.
  • "The Dumping Ground Survival Files" (2014).
  • Hetty Feather (2015–).


All of Wilson's books are fiction except the three autobiographies listed here.

Tracy Beaker[edit]


  • 1994 Twin Trouble
  • 1996 Connie and the Water Babies

Adventure Holiday[edit]

  • 1999 Cliffhanger
  • 1999 Buried Alive!
  • 2001 Biscuit Barrel containing Cliffhanger and Buried Alive!


Hetty Feather[edit]

Standalone works[edit]


  1. ^ Since 1995 there are usually eight books on the Carnegie shortlist. CCSU lists 32 "Highly Commended" runners-up for the Carnegie Medal from 1966 to 2002 but only three before 1979 when the distinction became approximately annual. There were 29 "HC" books in 24 years including Wilson alone for 1991 and 1995.


  1. ^ "Jacqueline Wilson". Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, 2nd ed., 8 vols. Gale Group, 2002. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Retrieved 2 January 2010, From 2005 to 2007.
  2. ^ "2014 Awards". Hans Christian Andersen Awards. International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b Pauli, Michelle (26 May 2005). "Children's laureateship goes to Jacqueline Wilson". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Jacqueline Wilson". The Guardian. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 
  5. ^ Wilson, Jacqueline (24 February 2007). "I was a girl for gritty realism". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2008. 
  6. ^ "Penhryn Road Campus" (PDF). KUCEL – flexible event spaces. Kingston University London. p. 4. Retrieved 4 January 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Author profile". Jubilee Books. 2003. 
  8. ^ a b "Dame Jacqueline Wilson's nasty adult world". The Daily Telegraph. 7 March 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2009. 
  9. ^ 'WILSON, Jacqueline', Who's Who 2008, A & C Black, 2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, December 2007 retrieved 30 May 2008. "Born 17 Dec. 1945; d of late Harry Aitken and of Margaret Aitken (née Clibbens) who was known as Biddy; m 1965, William Millar Wilson (marr. diss. 2004); one d".
  10. ^ [1] Retrieved 13 August 2008.
  11. ^ Kellaway, Kate (29 May 2005). "My inner age is between 10 and 40". The Observer. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "Patrons". Momentum. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  13. ^ Fleming, Christine (25 March 2011). "Friends of Richmond Park to mark 50 years of protecting the green space". Wandsworth Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  14. ^ FRP announces its new patrons Friends of Richmond Park website. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  15. ^ "Jacqueline Wilson appointed Professorial Fellow". University of Roehampton. Retrieved 6 August 2008. 
  16. ^ "Dame Jacqueline Wilson confirmed as new Chancellor". University of Roehampton. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  17. ^ https://www.plr.uk.com/mediaCentre/chartToppers/2002-2003ChartToppers.pdf
  18. ^ Lea, Richard (8 February 2008). "James Patterson stamps out library competition". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 
  19. ^ "Guardian children's fiction prize relaunched: Entry details and list of past winners". The Guardian, 12 March 2001. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  20. ^ "Carnegie Medal Award". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  21. ^ a b "Jacqueline Wilson". Children's Laureate (childrenslaureate.org.uk). Booktrust. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58557. pp. 6–7. 29 December 2007. Retrieved 05 August 2013.
  23. ^ Laing, Stuart. "Domus" in The Letter, Michaelmas 2012, 91, p.10, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
  24. ^ London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-75815-5


Bibliography and works[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Parker, Vic. (2003) All About Jacqueline Wilson (Oxford: Heinemann Library)
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Michael Morpurgo
Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Michael Rosen