Jacqueline Wilson

Wilson in 2009
BornJacqueline Aitken
(1945-12-17) 17 December 1945 (age 75)
Bath, Somerset, England
Notable works
Notable awardsGuardian Prize
British Book Award
2000, 2003
Millar Wilson
(m. 1965; div. 2004)
ChildrenEmma Wilson

Dame Jacqueline Wilson DBE, 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.

Early life

Jacqueline Aitken was born in Bath, Somerset, on 17 December 1945.[1] Her father, Harry, was a civil servant and her mother, Biddy, was an antiques dealer. [2] She particularly enjoyed books by Noel Streatfeild, as well as American classics like Little Women and What Katy Did.[3] At the age of nine, she wrote her first "book", "Meet the Maggots", which was 21 pages long.[4] 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.[5]

After leaving 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.[6]


Further information: Jacqueline Wilson bibliography

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.[7] She had mixed success with about 40 books before the breakthrough to fame in 1991 with The Story of Tracy Beaker,[8] 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.[9]

University of Roehampton and charity work

In June 2013, Wilson was appointed a professorial fellow of the University of Roehampton,[10] 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.[11] She was reappointed in 2017 for a further three years.[12] She teaches modules in both the Children's Literature and Creative Writing master's degree (MA) programmes offered by the university.[13] She concluded her term as Chancellor in August 2020.

Wilson is patron of the charity Momentum in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey,[14] which helps Surrey children undergoing treatment for cancer (and their families), and she is also patron of The Friends of Richmond Park.[15][16] Wilson is also a patron of the Letterbox Club, a BookTrust initiative.[17]


In The Big Read, a 2003 poll conducted by the BBC, four of Wilson's books were ranked among the 100 most popular books in the UK: Double Act, Girls In Love, Vicky Angel, and The Story of Tracy Beaker.[18] Fourteen books by Wilson ranked in the top 200.[18] In 2002, she replaced Catherine Cookson as the most borrowed author in Britain's libraries,[19] a position she retained until being overtaken by James Patterson in 2008.[20]


For her work, Wilson has won many awards including the Smarties Prize and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. The Illustrated Mum (1999) won the annual Guardian Prize, a book award judged by a panel of British children's writers,[21] and the annual British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year; it also made the 1999 Whitbread Awards shortlist. The Story of Tracy Beaker won the 2002 Blue Peter People's Choice Award, and Girls in Tears was the Children's Book of the Year at the 2003 British Book Awards. Two of her books were "Highly Commended" runners-up for the annual Carnegie Medal: The Story of Tracy Beaker (1991) and Double Act (1995).[22][a]

In June 2002, Wilson was appointed an OBE for services to literacy in schools[23] and from 2005 to 2007 she served as the fourth Children's Laureate.[2][23] In that role, Wilson urged parents and carers to continue reading aloud to children long after they are able to read for themselves.[24] She also campaigned to make more books available for blind people and campaigned against cutbacks in children's television drama.[24]

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.[25] In July 2007, the University of Roehampton awarded her an Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Letters) in recognition of her achievements in and on behalf of children's literature.[25] She has also received honorary degrees from the University of Dundee, the University of Bath and Kingston University.[25]

In the 2008 New Year Honours, Wilson was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).[26] In July 2012, Dame Jacqueline was also elected an honorary fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[27] In 2017, Wilson received the Special Award at the BAFTA Children's Awards.[28]

For her lifetime contribution as a children's writer, Wilson was a UK nominee for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2014.[29]

A lecture hall at Kingston University's Penrhyn Road campus has been named after her.[30]


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:


Personal life

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.[6] They divorced in 2004.[7][34]

In April 2020, Wilson publicly came out as gay.[35] She revealed that she had been living with her partner, Trish, for 18 years.[35]

Wilson's health issues have included heart failure, having an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, previously needing renal dialysis and now being the recipient of a kidney transplant.[36]


  1. ^ 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.


  1. ^ "My parents at war: Jacqueline Wilson opens up about unhappy early life". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b Pauli, Michelle (26 May 2005). "Children's laureateship goes to Jacqueline Wilson". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  3. ^ "Jacqueline Wilson". The Guardian. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2008.
  4. ^ Wilson, Jacqueline (24 February 2007). "I was a girl for gritty realism". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2008.
  5. ^ Mangan, Lucy (6 February 2015). "Jacqueline Wilson interview: 'People say my books are all sex and drugs, but I can't remember any'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Author profile". Jubilee Books. 2003. Archived from the original on 30 September 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Dame Jacqueline Wilson's nasty adult world". The Daily Telegraph. 7 March 2008. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  8. ^ Armitstead, Claire (14 February 2004). "Profile: Jacqueline Wilson". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Jacqueline Wilson appointed Professorial Fellow". University of Roehampton. Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  11. ^ "Dame Jacqueline Wilson confirmed as new Chancellor". University of Roehampton. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Dame Jacqueline Wilson re-appointed Chancellor of the University" (Press release). University of Roehampton. 5 April 2017. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Jacqueline Wilson to become new University of Roehampton chancellor". Your Local Guardian. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  14. ^ "Patrons". Momentum. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  15. ^ Fleming, Christine (25 March 2011). "Friends of Richmond Park to mark 50 years of protecting the green space". Wandsworth Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  16. ^ FRP announces its new patrons Friends of Richmond Park website. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Letterbox Club Patrons". BookTrust. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  18. ^ a b "BBC – The Big Read". BBC. April 2003. Retrieved 15 October 2017
  19. ^ "Public Lending Right" (PDF).
  20. ^ Lea, Richard (8 February 2008). "James Patterson stamps out library competition". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2008.
  21. ^ "Guardian children's fiction prize relaunched: Entry details and list of past winners". The Guardian. 12 March 2001. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  22. ^ "Carnegie Medal Award". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  23. ^ a b "Jacqueline Wilson". Children's Laureate (childrenslaureate.org.uk). Booktrust. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  24. ^ a b "Damehood for Tracy Beaker creator". BBC. 29 December 2007.
  25. ^ a b c "Wonderful Women Interview with Jacqueline Wilson". Honest Mum. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  26. ^ "No. 58557". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2007. pp. 6–7.
  27. ^ [permanent dead link] Laing, Stuart. "Domus" in The Letter, Michaelmas 2012, 91, p.10, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Dame Jacqueline Wilson to Receive BAFTA Special Award". BAFTAs. 13 November 2017.
  29. ^ "2014 Awards". Hans Christian Andersen Awards. International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  30. ^ "Penhryn Road Campus" (PDF). KUCEL – flexible event spaces. Kingston University London. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  31. ^ "Six-year-old makes acting debut on CBBC TV show". St Helens Star. St Helens, Merseyside. 23 March 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  32. ^ Alberge, Dalya (19 July 2018). "Filming begins on Jacqueline Wilson's Four Kids and It". The Guardian.
  33. ^ "Fans reminisce as new series My Mum Tracy Beaker sees return of Dani Harmer's classic CBBC character". Evening Standard. 9 February 2021. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  34. ^ '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".
  35. ^ a b Flood, Alison (4 April 2020). "Jacqueline Wilson reveals publicly that she is gay". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  36. ^ Kay, Adam (2020). "Dame Jacqueline Wilson". Dear NHS 100 Stories to say Thank You. ISBN 978-1-3987-0118-2.


Further reading

Cultural offices Preceded byMichael Morpurgo Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom2005–2007 Succeeded byMichael Rosen