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15 Totally Fascinating Jacqueline Wilson Facts!

Are you a huge Jacqueline Wilson fan? How much do you know about the UK's most beloved children's writer? Learn it all tight here!

Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:  June 18th 2024

Dame Jacqueline Wilson is one of the most popular children's authors in the UK! She's got loads of awards, a damehood, an OBE, she was Children's Laureate from 2005 to 2007, and she's written more than 100 books! You've probably read some of them (or maybe all of them if you're a superfan!), but how much do you know about the author? These fun facts will amaze, astonish and astound you - so, read on if you want to learn all about her, and even get some writing tips! And when you're done, you'll be ready to try our Jacqueline Wilson book quiz, or take a quiz to find out which book you are!

1. She was born in Bath!

Jacqueline Wilson was born in Bath, Somerset, in 1945. However, she grew up in Kingston Upon Thames, near London. A lot of her stories are London-based, so she knows the area!

2. She's inspired by classic literature

As a child, Jacqueline's favourite books included Black Beauty, Ballet Shoes, and the Flower Fairies series. She also loved American classics Little Women and What Katy Did. One of her books, Katy, is a modern-day retelling of What Katy Did, which came out in 1872! She also wrote The Primrose Railway Children (inspired by the 1906 book The Railway Children) and Four Children and It (a sequel to the 1902 book Five Children and It).

3. She wrote her first book aged 9!

Most writers start scribbling when they're little, and Jacqueline was no exception! She wrote her first "book" aged 9. It was 21 pages long and it was called "Meet the Maggots"! Jacqueline says it was about a big family, because she was an only child who wanted to be part of a big family. Jacqueline was very imaginative when she was little, and her nickname at school was "Jacky Daydream"!

4. She loves jewellery

If you ever meet Jacqueline at a book signing, the chances are she'll be wearing lots of rings! She once said she would buy one for every book she finished! Though she later said that was a made-up story, she does own a LOT of rings and sometimes wears one on every finger! Jacqueline says that jewellery is good at children's book events, because it gives the kids something interesting to look at while she's talking. She prefers silver jewellery, and she also loves precious stones, which is why some of her characters are named after them!

5. There's a rumour that a magazine was named after her

Jackie was a popular magazine for teenage girls that ran between 1964 and 1993. It was published by DC Thomson (who also publish Beano!), and Jacqueline worked for them before she became an author. There's a longstanding rumour that the magazine was named after her, but this apparently isn't true - instead, the name was picked from a list of names that teenage girls could relate to. Jacqueline has said the publishers told her it was named after her though, though she wasn't sure whether if they meant it or not.

6. She didn't always write children's books

Before she hit it big, Jacqueline wrote a lot of different things! She wrote lots of short stsories for magazines, including crime stories and stories for teenagers and adults as well as children. She published about 40 books before finally hitting it big - a great reminder to never give up!

7. Tracy Beaker was her big break!

The Story of Tracy Beaker | BBC | CBBC

There's no way you don't know about Tracy Beaker! She's probably Jacqueline's most famous character, and she first appeared in 1991. Jacqueline got the idea for the book after reading an article about children in foster care. She began to imagine the character of a feisty young girl who wanted to be loved, and Tracy was born! The Story of Tracy Beaker was a huge hit and spawned sequels and several television series! It's still one of the most borrowed library books in the UK!

8. Her and Nick Sharratt are a dream team

The Story of Tracy Beaker | Jacqueline Wilson | Nick Sharratt | Doubleday

Jacqueline has worked with a few different illustators, but the one she used most often is Nick Sharratt! They worked together for thirty years, and he's illustrated some of her most famous books, including Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather. He was so important to her books that she often sent them to him before she sent them to her agent. Nick has done illustrations for lots of other famous writers, including Jeremy Strong, Michael Rosen and Julia Donaldson. He's written some picture books of his own, too!

9. Tracy's name came from an unusual place

Jacqueline knew she wanted her character to have a really unique name, and she got the idea from (of all things) a Snoopy mug! Jacqueline says she was in the bath, using a Snoopy beaker to wash her hair and looking around the bathroom for inspiration - and then she looked at the cup and thought, "Tracy Beaker!" Good thing she didn't choose "Tracy Toilet"!

10. Her childhood wasn't always happy

Lots of Jacqueline's books are about children dealing with difficult circumstances, and she took some inspiration from her own childhood. She says she didn't face some of the more awful things in her books, but her parents didn't get along and fought often. She joked that they helped her to find the themes often repeated in her books.

11. She loves to write Victorian stories

Hetty Feather is one of Jacqueline's mosty popular book series, and it's not even the first time she wrote about the Victorians - check out The Lottie Project if you haven't already! Jacqueline says she likes writing about this time in history, and she became especially interested after being asked to write something for The Foundling Museum in London. The Foundling Hospital was an orphanage that was open between 1741 and 1951, and it's now a museum that you can visit to learn about the real children like Hetty. Jacqueline says that writing Victorian stories is easier in some ways, because you don't have to keep up with modern slang!

12. There are a lot of TV adaptations of her work

Hetty Feather | CBBC | CBBC, CBBC HD

The Story of Tracy Beaker and all its spinoffs aren't the only Jacqueline Wilson TV shows! There have been seventeen TV adaptations of her books, including Best Friends, Double Act and Katy, plus one film - Four Children and It! There have also been several stage and radio plays of her books, too.

13. If she didn't become a writer, she might have been a hairdresser

When she was a little girl Jacqueline wished her short hair was longer and begged her friends to let her style their hair. She thought that maybe she could train as a hairdresser if writing didn't work out - lucky for us, it did! She also thought about being a librarian or working in a bookshop, because she loves books - obviously!

14. She's worried that readers are losing stamina

Jacqueline said in an interview that she was worried about children's books becoming smaller and simpler, because it's good for a developing mind to read things that are challenging. It's good to build up stamina as a reader, just like how you can gradually build up stamina doing physical exercise. What do you think - do you like reading things that you find challenging?

15. She has great tips for writers!

Are you a budding writer? Jacqueline Wilson has plenty of tips for you! One tip is to read lots and lots, because it increases your vocabulary and it's good to see how other people write. She also recommends keeping a daily diary, and trying to write a little every day - even just for five minutes! It's also good to structure your writing (so, a clear beginning, middle, and end), but don't be afraid to just write and see what happens, too! Don't be disappointed if it doesn't work out how you wanted - all writing is valuable, because it helps you get better at it! Finally, keep your eyes open and look at the world around you. If you pay attention to people and try to imagine what makes them tick, you'll be full of ideas for your stories!