Dame Jacqueline Wilson (née Aitkin), (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.
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.
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 dinner lady and a bakery worker. 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. 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. 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. 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. The marriage was dissolved in 2004 after her husband left her.
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. 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. 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. 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. She swims 50 lengths each day before breakfast. She likes all sorts of music, especially Queen and Freddie Mercury.
Jacqueline Wilson is patron of the charity Momentum 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.
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