In an article published in the Observer magazine in March 2014, timed to coincide with a national exhibition about her work and life, Jacqueline Wilson describes her childhood with parents who ‘weren’t cruel, but it wasn’t a cosy, happy family’ as being a ‘wonderful environment for the writer who wants to write the sort of books I do’.1 From her account, Wilson’s post-war childhood was unhappy in an apparently conventional way. However, she is particularly well known for her portrayals of unconventional families, and the books she has written validate the experiences of children from many different backgrounds including those from ‘functional’ nuclear families, like her own, and those from a kaleidoscope of non-traditional ‘dysfunctional’ families. While her books draw on a range of relationships between children and their parents, Wilson is most attentive to the relationships between children and their, often single, mothers, and while she is careful not to put forward the view that non-traditional means incomplete, many of Wilson’s juvenile characters struggle with their desire to make good the gaps in their experience of nurturant primary care by their birth mothers. Taking in the span of her work, it is clear that mothers and mothering is a focus for Wilson and it is the subject of this chapter.
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