Former Children’s Laureate Jacqueline Wilson first shot to fame with her Tracy Beaker stories and since then has gone on to write more than a hundred books, mostly for children, including popular stand-alone stories such as The Illustrated Mum and Dustbin Baby as well as her popular series for teenagers beginning with Girls in Love.
Author Jacqueline Wilson started her writing career unusually early, writing her first full-length story at the age of nine and being employed as a columnist for Jackie magazine at just 17. Her first teacher called her ‘Jacky Daydream’ because of her propensity to stare out of the window, never one to overlook potential inspiration; Wilson later took the name as the title for her own autobiography.
From her earliest novels, Wilson has never been afraid to challenge the prevailing wisdom that books for children should avoid difficult issues. Her breakthrough novel, The Story of Tracey Beaker, features a girl in residential care who makes up stories to make life more bearable and it went on to form the basis of a successful series which was later televised.
Since then Wilson’s novels have only grown in popularity (Sales of her books have now overtaken 35 million copies in the UK) despite (or perhaps because) of their tackling of some pretty tough scenarios.
Her subject matter has ranged across a gamut covering death, depression, tattoos, alcoholism, physical abuse and divorce, in novels for children of all ages from books like The Monster Storyteller for younger readers through to books for young teenagers such as Kiss which tackles issues of sexuality, My Sister Jodie which looks at sibling rivalry and her popular Girls series.
Wilson has been criticised for being so frank in her treatment of contemporary social issues but she is sceptical about the need to hide difficult things from children, describing it as impossible ‘to protect children from the realities of life; you only have to eavesdrop on a junior school playground to know that children know precisely what’s going on’.
A Reader’s Writer
A famously voracious reader herself, Wilson famously has a library of over 15,000 books. When she was appointed Children’s Laureate in 2005 she devoted much of her time and resource to encouraging reading aloud in families, commenting 'I think it’s the best gift you can give your child. It’s a wonderful way of bonding together and simultaneously entering the magic world of the imagination’
More recently she has turned to history for inspiration, in particular that surrounding the Foundling Museum where she holds the position of Coram Fellow. The place and its history inspired her books about the feisty Victorian Heroine Hetty Feather and more recently she has created yet another 19th century heroine, Clover Moon. She continues to be interested by unusual characters saying ‘I have always been on the side of odd ones out. I was a bit, and if there’s anything I want to achieve, it’s to have children reading about others slightly different to them, and taking them to their hearts.’