Jacqueline Wilson’s rich representations of the experiences of childhood and adolescence in contemporary society are frequently accompanied by a reflection on the role of reading and writing in these experiences. Diaries, letters, autofiction, even self-representation — her work is peppered with mises en abyme of the literary endeavour, generally focused on what could be called discovery-writing the self. Wilson’s writerly protagonists are exclusively female, from Tracy Beaker in 1991 to Rosalind Hartlepool in 2012 — inscribing the works that feature them firmly within the genre of ‘Stories for girls about girls who write stories’, as Ruth Berman puts it.1 They write with apparent spontaneity, and a seemingly self-centred desire to process their experiences. However, their enterprises are often also self-consciously directed towards intradiegetic readers, and their development as writers is rarely far from their minds. Wilson’s representation of young girls writing thus often deviates from the genre of the secret diary, introducing subtle but serious thinking about the act of writing not just for self-discovery but also for an audience and as a semi-professional activity. As such, her writerly heroines are closer to Jo March than to Georgia Nicholson, and her metafictional novels qualify as examples of Künstlerroman — tales of artistic maturation — perhaps more than as Bildungsroman.
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