Childhood & Early Life
Jacqueline Wilson was born Jacqueline Aitken, in Bath, Somerset, England, on December 17, 1945, to a civil servant father and an antiques dealer mother. She moved to Kingston upon Thames after a while and spent the early years of her childhood there.
She attended ‘Latchmere Primary School,’ where she first got addicted to books. She loved reading out stories in her classes. However, she received bad grades in creative writing, as the stories she wrote were not too formal or conventional.
She had an impeccable imagination since childhood. She filled her school notebooks with imaginary characters. One of her favorite authors was Noel Streatfeild, and she read books such as ‘What Katy Did’ and ‘Little Women.’
By the time she was 9 years old, she had written her first novel, which was a small 21-page piece titled ‘Meet the Maggots.’ It narrated the tale of a family with seven children. She exhibited a vivid and wild imagination at a tender age.
However, she was unable to concentrate in studies and was often found looking out of the windows in class. This continued till her high-school years. Her teacher would often tease her by calling her “Jacky Daydream.” Jacqueline had no interest in any other subject except English, and she had already made up her mind about becoming a writer.
She later attended ‘Coombe Girls’ School’ and graduated at the age of 16. She believes her years at ‘Coombe’ were the most formative years of her career. She still visits her school regularly.
Although she aspired to become a writer, she had to make herself financially stable first. Hence, she started training to become a secretary. However, fate had other plans for her. She bagged a job as a writer with a magazine named ‘Jacky,’ published by ‘DC Thomson,’ a popular publishing house.
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Early Career & Marriage
Jacqueline applied for the job at ‘DC Thomson’ at the age of 17. Her selection was based on one of her write-ups that described the horrors of teen discos, which had become a trend among English teenagers.
While working there, she met a man named Millar Wilson. They dated for two years, before getting married in 1965. Jacqueline was 19 years old then and had just started working on her own literature projects. They had a daughter, Emma Wilson, two years later.
She faced a few rejections before she finally became a “published” author. Her first short story was published when she was 17 years old, while her first novel was published when she was 22 years old.
Some of her first books earned mixed reviews. She released more books, such as ‘Ricky’s Birthday,’ ‘Hide and Seek,’ ‘Truth and Dare,’ and ‘Let’s Pretend,’ while she struggled to become a well-known author. However, most of her books earned little or no success.
She increased her pace in the 1980s and wrote more than two books per year on an average. Toward the late 1980s, she finally started getting recognition. However, it was not before 1991 that she came to be known as a highly competent author.
In 1991, the first novel in the ‘Tracy Beaker’ franchise, ‘The Story of Tracy Beaker,’ was released. It was a first-person narrative by the leading character, a troubled 10-year-old girl named ‘Tracy Beaker.’
The book narrated the woes of ‘Tracy,’ a young girl with behavioral problems, living in a care home after being abandoned by her mother. Tracy was portrayed as a creative child, telling stories to the staff and her friends at the care home, once even mentioning her mother, a Hollywood star, who would come to get her someday.
From an adult’s point of view, ‘Tracy’ would come across as a character with deep psychological issues. The novel was equally loved by both children and adults. It was also critically and commercially successful. Her transition from a crime-thriller writer, with stories full of sex and violence, to a writer of a heartfelt children’s story was welcomed by all.
With her next book series, ‘Girls,’ Jacqueline targeted teenage girls. In 1997, the first instalment of the series, ‘Girls in Love,’ was published. It became an instant success. It was followed by ‘Girls under Pressure,’ ‘Girls Out Late,’ and ‘Girls in Tears.’ All of them were equally successful.
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In 2000, Jacqueline returned to ‘Tracy Beaker’ and published its sequel, ‘The Dare Game.’ This was later followed by another sequel, ‘Starring Tracy Beaker.’ In October 2018, the latest instalment in the series, ‘My Mum Tracy Beaker,’ was published.
Jacqueline also created the highly acclaimed ‘Hetty Feather’ series, authoring six books in the series, beginning in 2009. The first instalment was titled ‘Hetty Feather.’ It was followed by the sequels, ‘Sapphire Battersea,’ ‘Emerald Star,’ ‘Diamond,’ ‘Little Stars,’ and ‘Hetty Feather’s Christmas.’
Apart from writing several series of books, she has also written stand-alone books regularly. Some of her latest works are ‘Opal Plumstead,’ ‘The Butterfly Club,’ and ‘Rent a Bridesmaid.’
Several of her novels, such as ‘The Story of Tracy Beaker,’ ‘Double Act,’ ‘The Illustrated Mum,’ ‘Hetty Feather,’ ‘The Dumping Ground,’ ‘Katy,’ and ‘Dustbin Baby,’ have been made into TV series.
Awards & Honors
Throughout her career, Jacqueline Wilson has won many awards and honors for her contribution to the world of literature. She has been the recipient of two of the biggest literary awards in England: the ‘Smarties Prize’ and the ‘Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.’
In 2002, ‘The Story of Tracy Beaker’ won the the ‘Blue Peter People’s Choice Award.’ The following year, ‘Girls in Tears’ won the ‘Children’s Book of the Year Award’ at the ‘British Book Awards.’
She has recieved honorary degrees from the ‘University of Winchester,’ the ‘University of Roehampton,’ the ‘University of Dundee,’ and ‘Kingston University.’ In 2008, she was also awarded with the honor of the ‘Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.’ In 2017, she was honored with a ‘BAFTA Children’s Award.’
According to a ‘BBC’ poll, four of her books have been named among the 100 most popular books in the UK. 14 of her books ranked among the top 200.