Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson at the Bath Festival of Children's Literature, September 2009
Born Jacqueline Aitken
17 December 1945 (1945-12-17) (age 65)
Bath, Somerset, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Author
Nationality British
Notable work(s) The Story of Tracy Beaker...... Dustbin Baby......


Dame Jacqueline Wilson, DBE, FRSL (née Aitken; born 17 December 1945) is an award-winning English author, known for her vast and diverse work in children's literature. Her novels have been adapted numerous times for television, and commonly deal with such challenging themes as adoption, divorce and mental illness. Addressing these issues has made her controversial because of her young readership.[1]

Wilson may be best-known for her series of novels featuring the character Tracy Beaker, who first appeared in Wilson's 1991 novel The Story of Tracy Beaker, from which has followed three sequels, as well as three CBBC television adaptations: The Story of Tracy Beaker and Tracy Beaker Returns.


Life and education

Jacqueline wilson was born in Bath, England in 1945. Her father, Harry Aitkin, was a civil servant; her mother, Margaret 'Biddy' Aitkin, was a housewife, having various jobs as a dinnerlady and a bakery worker.[2] She spent most of her childhood in Kingston upon Thames, where she went to Latchmere Primary School. She was an imaginative child and enjoyed reading and making up stories. She particularly enjoyed books by Noel Streatfeild, as well as American classics like Little Women and What Katy Did.[3] As early as aged seven, she would fill Woolworths notebooks with stories of her imaginary games. At the age of nine she wrote her first "novel" which was 18 sides long.[4] The book, Meet the Maggots, was about a family with seven children. Although she was good at English, the young Jacqueline had no interest in mathematics 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". Jacqueline Wilson later used this nickname as the title of the first stage of her autobiography.

She did not do particularly well at school and had to re-take her eleven plus exam in order to pass it, as she had a bad cold on the day of the original exam (see Jacky Daydream). 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 the Jacqueline Wilson Hall. Having left 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.[5] DC Thomson offered the 17 year old a job after she penned a piece on the horrors of teenage discos. She fell in love with a printer named 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.[5] The marriage was dissolved in 2004 after her husband left her.[6][7]

Jacqueline 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.[6] She had mixed success with some 40 books before rising to fame in 1991 with The Story of Tracy Beaker.

Jacqueline Wilson lives in a Victorian villa in Kingston upon Thames which is filled with books; her library of some 15,000 books extends into the outbuilding at the bottom of her garden.[8] 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.[3] She also surrounds herself with old-fashioned childhood objects such as a rocking horse and a number of antique dolls, and has a unique taste in clothes and jewellery, being known for wearing black clothes and an array of large rings.[9] She swims 50 lengths each day before breakfast.[6] She likes all sorts of music, especially Queen and Freddie Mercury.

Jacqueline Wilson is patron of the charity Momentum[10] in Kingston upon Thames, which aims to help children and the families of children undergoing treatment for cancer in Surrey, and also patron of the Friends of Richmond Park.[11][12]_


Jacqueline Wilson's stories focus on much more than most children's books, and have tackled such difficult themes as abuse, grief, divorce, foster care and mental illness. Illustrator Nick Sharratt, who designs the covers for her books.

She says: " I want to write to every age group, in a way that can prepare them for what happens in the real world, and raise the awareness levels of many life changing situations. I want to be a friend."

Book sales

Over 30 million copies of Jacqueline Wilson'sbalh books have been sold in the UK alone.[13] 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 being overtaken by James Patterson in 2008.[14]

Awards and honours

Jacqueline 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 2000 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. Girls in Tears was the 2003 Children's Book of the Year at the British Book Awards.

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 parents and carers 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 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 Roehampton University 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 New Year Honours 2008, Jacqueline Wilson was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).

Professorial Fellow

In June 2008, Wilson was appointed Professorial Fellow of Roehampton University,[15] where she is now a Pro Vice Chancellor. She teaches modules on both the Children's Literature MA and the Creative Writing MA offered by the university.

Adaptations of her novels

A dramatisation of Wilson's Double Act, written and directed by Vicky Ireland, was first performed at The Polka Theatre in Wimbledon 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 Jacqueline 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 Illustrated Mum (2003, Channel 4). Starring former EastEnders star Michelle Collins as Marigold Westward, who won a BAFTA Award for her role, and now plays Stella 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.
  • Tracy Beaker Returns (2010). This is a current series in which Tracy 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.

To date, there have been no feature film adaptations of Jacqueline Wilson's novels.


Mark Spark

  • 1992 Mark Spark
  • 1993 Mark Spark in the Dark

Freddy's Teddy

  • 1000 Freddy's Teddy
  • 1000 Teddy in the Garden
  • 1000Teddy Goes Swimming
  • 1000 Come Back Teddy!
  • 1000 teddy at the fair

Tracy Beaker


  • 1995 The Werepuppy on Holiday


Adventure Holiday

  • 1995 Cliffhanger
  • 1999 Buried Alive!
  • 2001 Biscuit Barrel containing Cliffhanger & Buried Alive!

Hetty Feather

Stevie Day

  • 1987 Stevie Day: Lonelyhearts
  • 1987 Stevie Day: Supersleuth
  • 1988 Stevie Day: Rat Race
  • 1988 Stevie Day: Vampire

Is There Anybody There?

  • 1989 Is There Anybody There? Volume 1 – Spirit Raising
  • 1990 Is There Anybody There? Volume 2 – Crystal Gazing

Non-series works

  • 1959 Meet the Maggots
  • 1969 Ricky's Birthday
  • 1972 Hide and Seek
  • 1973 Truth or Dare
  • 1974 Snap
  • 1976 Let's Pretend
  • 1977 " What Happened To Grandma?
  • 1982 Nobody's Perfect
  • 1983 Waiting for the Sky to Fall
  • 1984 The Killer Tadpole
  • 1984 The Other Side
  • 1984 The School Trip
  • 1986 Amber
  • 1986 The Monster in the Cupboard
  • 1987 The Power of the Shade
  • 1988 This Girl
  • 1989 Falling Apart
  • 1989 The Left Outs
  • 1989 The Party in the Lift
  • 1990 Take a Good Look
  • 1991 The Dream Palace
  • 1992 Video Rose
  • 1993 Deep Blue
  • 1994 Twin Trouble
  • 1995 Jimmy Jelly
  • 1995 Love from Katie
  • 1995 My Brother Bernadette
  • 1995 Sophie's Secret Diary
  • 1996 Beauty and the Beast
  • 1996 Connie and the Water Babies
  • 1996 Mr. Cool
  • 1998 Rapunzel
  • 1999 Monster Eyeballs


Popular children's non-series works


  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.
  2. ^ Pauli, Michelle (26 May 2005). "Children's laureateship goes to Jacqueline Wilson". The Guardian. UK: Guardian News and Media Limited. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/may/26/jacquelinewilson. Retrieved 15 August 2008. 
  3. ^ a b "Jacqueline Wilson". The Guardian. UK: Guardian News and Media Limited. 22 July 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/jun/10/jacquelinewilson. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 
  4. ^ Wilson, Jacqueline (24 February 2007). "'I was a girl for gritty realism'". The Guardian. UK: Guardian News and Media Limited. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/feb/24/jacquelinewilson. Retrieved 15 August 2008. 
  5. ^ a b "Author profile". Jubilee Books. 2003. http://www.jubileebooks.co.uk/2001/10/jaqueline-wilson/. 
  6. ^ a b c "Dame Jacqueline Wilson's nasty adult world". The Daily Telegraph. UK: Telegraph Media Group Limited. 7 March 2008. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1581026/Dame-Jacqueline-Wilson's-nasty-adult-world.html. Retrieved 13 August 2009. 
  7. ^ ‘WILSON, Jacqueline’, Who's Who 2008, A & C Black, 2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, December 2007 accessed 30 May 2008. "Born 17 Dec. 1945; d of late Harry Aitken and of Margaret Aitken (née Clibbins) who was known as Biddy; m 1965, William Millar Wilson (marr. diss. 2004); one d".
  8. ^ http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article1381142.ece Accessed 13 August 2008
  9. ^ Kellaway, Kate (29 May 2005). "'My inner age is between 10 and 40'". The Observer (UK). http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/childrenandteens/story/0,,1494760,00.html. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  10. ^ Momentum
  11. ^ Fleming, Christine (25 March 2011). "Friends of Richmond Park to mark 50 years of protecting the green space". Wandsworth Guardian. http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/8927743.Friends_group_to_mark_50_years/. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  12. ^ FRP announces its new patrons Friends of Richmond Park website. Accessed 30 May 2011.
  13. ^ "Wilson Sells 20 Million" (PDF). Random Hou= 1 Februarbla bahy 2005. http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/childrens/grownups/pressroom/releases/feb05/20million.pdf. 
  14. ^ Lea, Richard (8 February 2008). "James Patterson stamps out library competition". The Guardian (UK). http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/feb/08/news.richardlea. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 
  15. ^ "Jacqueline Wilson appointed Professorial Fellow". Roehampton University website. http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/news/jackiewilson.html/. Retrieved 6 August 2008. 

Further reading

  • Parker, Vic. (2003) All About Jacqueline Wilson (Oxford: Heinemann Library)

External links

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Michael Morpurgo
Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom
2005 – 2007
Succeeded by
Michael Rosen

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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