Life lessons with Dame Jacqueline Wilson

Liz Nicholls

Henley Lit Fest

We chat to author Jacqueline Wilson, 77, who is one of the stars of Henley Literary Festival, 30th September to 7th October

Q. Hello. I hope you’re well?

“I’m well, feeling good and very much looking forward to coming to the Henley Literary Festival.”

Q. Did you enjoy school?

“I liked it at my primary school. I had a marvellous gentle teacher when I was in Year Five called Mr Townsend. He didn’t tease me when I confided that I wanted to be a writer when I was grown up. He actively encouraged me and was very sweet when I showed him my first long story. I wasn’t quite as keen on my secondary school, though I enjoyed my English lessons and much appreciated the friendly art teacher who taught me a lot about paintings in the National Gallery.”

Q. What was your favourite book when you were a child? And who’s your favourite author now?

“I loved Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, a story about three adopted sisters who go to stage school. I wished I could have ballet lessons myself, but had to make do with dancing round our flat in my pink bedroom slippers, pretending I was a fourth sister. My favourite author is Anne Tyler. I’ve read every single one of her books, and do hope she writes many more.”

Q. Can you tell us about your first book, which I believe you wrote when you were nine, is that right?

“It was only about 15 pages long, but it had all my trademarks: it was about a poor family with a wayward teenage girl of 15, an earnest 12-year-old who loves reading, a 10-year-old who wants to act, nine-year-old identical twins, an anxious six-year-old, and a fierce little sister of four who bosses everyone about!”

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