Dame Jacqueline WilsonDBE,FRSL (née Aitken; born 17 December 1945) is an English novelist known for her popular children's literature. Her novels have been notable for featuring controversial themes such as adoption and divorce without alienating her large readership. Since her debut novel in 1969, Wilson has written over 100 books.
Jacqueline Aitken was born in Bath, Somerset, on 17 December 1945. Her father, Harry, was a civil servant and her mother, Biddy, was an antiques dealer. She particularly enjoyed books by Noel Streatfeild, as well as American classics like Little Women and What Katy Did. At the age of nine, she wrote her first "book", "Meet the Maggots", which was 21 pages long. Wilson was given the nickname Jacky Daydream at school, which she later used as the title of her autobiography, which tells of her life as a primary school-aged child.
When Wilson began to focus on writing, she completed several 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. She had mixed success with about 40 books before the breakthrough to fame in 1991 with The Story of Tracy Beaker, published by Doubleday.
As her children's novels frequently feature themes of adoption, divorce and mental illness, they tend to attract controversy, yet are well loved by children and adults alike.
In June 2013, Wilson was appointed a professorial fellow of the University of Roehampton, and a Pro-Chancellor. In February 2014, it was announced that she would be appointed Chancellor of the university (its honorary figurehead) from August 2014. She was reappointed in 2017 for a further three years. She teaches modules in both the Children's Literature and Creative Writing master's degree (MA) programmes offered by the university. She concluded her term as Chancellor in August 2020.
In June 2002, Wilson was appointed an OBE for services to literacy in schools and from 2005 to 2007 she served as the fourth Children's Laureate. In that 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 campaigned against cutbacks in children's television drama.
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 television:
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.
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 (2010–2012). This is a series in which Tracy (Dani Harmer) returns to the "Dumping Ground" (Stowey House, whose name has been changed to Elm Tree House) to earn money for her new book because she used Cam's credit card without permission to publish it. She realises that Elm Tree House has changed and the new children act just like she did 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, and focuses more on just one child in the care home.
The Dumping Ground Survival Files (2014). A spin-off series where the Dumping Ground kids teach lessons about various subjects using stories that have happened to them and their friends in the past, using clips from Tracy Beaker Returns and The Dumping Ground.
Hetty Feather (2015–2020). Stars Isabel Clifton as Hetty Feather, living her life in the Foundling Hospital and, later at the end of the third series, starting her life as a maid in service.
The Dumping Ground: I'm... (2016–2017). A spin-off series similar to the Survival Files, but instead where the characters make videos about themselves, who they are, what they like and stuff that's happened to them in their life.
Katy was made into a three-part TV series, Katy, broadcast on CBBC in March 2018.
In her teens, Jacqueline Aitken began a relationship with partner Millar Wilson, whom she married in 1965 when she was 19. Two years later, they had a daughter named Emma. Her husband later left her for another woman. They divorced in 2004.
In April 2020, Wilson announced she was in a same-sex relationship. She revealed that she had been living with her partner, Trish, for 18 years.
^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.
^"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.
^'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".