The wonderful work of Wilson

“I’ve loved books even before I could read,” said Jacqueline Wilson at Hay this afternoon. The gloriously prolific writer for children (and adults) spoke on growing from a “tiny novelist in embryo”, to becoming a household name.

She recalled her early days as a bookworm at high school, and later as a journalist at DC Thomson in Dundee. Wilson’s job was to fake readers’ letters and run a horoscope column for Jackie magazine, which was named after her. “I made it all up,” she laughed.

“I didn’t come from a very posh or cultured background”. The writer’s unconventional upbringing inspired her “breakthrough book”, The Story of Tracy Beaker, which has had great success as a television series, too.

It was her recent novel, Dancing the Charleston, that took centre-stage this afternoon. “I wanted to write about the Twenties,” she said, as she remembered her love for classics such as Milly-Molly-Mandy, which was one of her influences.

The much-loved writer spoke about writing her favourite scenes for the book, which included the sweet selection of Harrods, and a crazy exhibition at Wembley. She also spoke of her love for the novel’s main characters, Mr Benjamin and Hetty Feather. “I had a wonderful time writing it,” she said.

When asked if she would ever stop writing, Wilson said “No. I’m going to carry on and on and on.”

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Picture by Philippa Harris