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Jacqueline Wilson
Image: Time Out

Jacqueline Wilson remembers getting her first book deal in London

The children’s author on Little Essex Street and the moment that changed everything

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

When I was in my early twenties, I sent out my first novel, but people were turning it down. A year or so went by, and I received a letter from Macmillan publishers inviting me to their offices in Little Essex Street. By that stage, I was despairing – I thought they’d pat me on the head and say ‘nice try, dear’.

I was living in Kingston upon Thames at the time. When I was younger, my mum used to take me into London to visit Selfridges at Christmas, but I didn’t really know other parts of the city. I set off for Waterloo and walked along the Strand, before I was ushered into a grand boardroom, all mahogany and gleaming. It was like I’d been removed from my ordinary life and there was this magical life of luxury and culture that I had one toe in.

The head of Macmillan’s crime list told me that my book, ‘Hide and Seek’, was going to be published. Afterwards, I skipped down the street and bought an egg-salad sandwich on the Strand to celebrate. I’d wanted to be a writer since I was six years old, so it meant the world to me. Nothing’s ever been as exciting as that moment.

Jacqueline Wilson is at the Imagine Children’s Festival at the Southbank Centre on Feb 20.

The street that changed my life

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