Best known for her Tracy Beaker series, writer Dame Jacqueline Wilson has acted as the voice of girls growing up, tackling challenging themes such as adoption, divorce and mental illness. Ahead of a new exhibition at the Museum of Childhood, Daydreams and Diaries: The Story of Jacqueline Wilson, Amie Mulderrig explains all you need to know about the popular author.
1. She’s a late bloomer
Despite having her first short story published at 17 and lots of books published subsequently, it wasn’t until she was in her 40s that Jacqueline gained notoriety. “It was The Story of Tracey Beaker that started that,“ she says. “It wasn’t an overnight success, but it started to gather momentum. “I am very fond of her and very grateful, and also for the television series that gave her an even wider audience.“Happily for me, things have carried on rather pleasantly ever since.“
2. She’s a fan of girly classics
Citing books such as Little Women, What Katy Did, Ballet Shoes and The Little Princess as her favourite books when growing up, it was reading these books that inspired her to become an author. “When I was small, sometimes I did take characters from books and make up my own stories about them. It amuses me now that many children write me an extra chapter of Tracey Beaker.“
3. She’s a crazy cat lady
Not only is she an ambassador of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, but she’s compiled and contributed to a new book: Paws and Whiskers. Her own two cats, Jacob and Lily, make an appearance in the tome. “I have fantasies of them prancing round the neighbourhood saying to all the neighbouring cats ‘We’re famous! People write about us’!“ she says.
4. Her views on her exhibition
“It’s as if there are two of me,“ she says. “The me in the exhibition and the me going round.“ It was also odd for a childhood friend of her’s, whose photo in the exhibition. Daydreams and Diaries includes original notebooks along with childhood toys, school reports and diaries of Jacqueline, as well as extracts and illustrations from some of her best-loved books.