Authors: Jacqueline Wilson
MY SECRET DIARY
Also available by Jacqueline Wilson
Published in Corgi Pups, for beginner readers:
THE DINOSAUR'S PACKED LUNCH
THE MONSTER STORY-TELLER
Published in Young Corgi, for newly confident readers:
Available from Doubleday/Corgi Yearling Books:
THE BED AND BREAKFAST STAR
THE CAT MUMMY
THE DARE GAME
THE DIAMOND GIRLS
DOUBLE ACT (PLAY EDITION)
THE ILLUSTRATED MUM
THE LOTTIE PROJECT
MY SISTER JODIE
STARRING TRACY BEAKER
THE STORY OF TRACY BEAKER
THE SUITCASE KID
THE WORRY WEBSITE
THE JACQUELINE WILSON COLLECTION
THE STORY OF TRACY BEAKER
THE BED AND BREAKFAST STAR
JACQUELINE WILSON'S DOUBLE-DECKER
JACQUELINE WILSON'S SUPERSTARS
THE SUITCASE KID
THE LOTTIE PROJECT
Available from Doubleday/Corgi Books, for older readers:
GIRLS IN LOVE
GIRLS UNDER PRESSURE
GIRLS OUT LATE
GIRLS IN TEARS
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MY SECRET DIARY
A DOUBLEDAY BOOK
Published in Great Britain by Doubleday,
an imprint of Random House Children's Books
This edition published 2009
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
Text copyright © Jacqueline Wilson, 2009
Illustrations copyright © Nick Sharratt, 2009
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I've kept a diary on and off all my life. When I
was a little girl I had small Letts schoolgirl
diaries. I kept them in my sock drawer, madly
thinking this was an amazingly inventive hiding
place. I didn't really record any riveting secrets
in my blotchy biro: 'Mummy bought me a
comic. I think Joan of Arc is wonderful. Daddy
and I went for a walk and I pretended to be
I didn't write at length in a proper journal until
I was in my teens. I read
The Diary of Anne Frank
and then re-read it so many times I could quote
whole passages by heart. I especially loved the
parts where Anne says she wants to be a writer
when she grows up. I identified so strongly with
that longing. I ached for Anne because she never
had the chance to fulfil her huge potential.
However, she also wrote that she wanted to be
remembered after her death, and of course
millions around the world read her wonderful
diary. I knew this perfectly well but I still
somehow felt she was writing her diary just for
me, confiding all her secret fears and hopes and
dreams. I slept with my pink Pan paperback copy
of Anne's diary under my pillow and I kept a
picture of her on my bedside table. I'd sometimes
whisper to her at night.
I'd seen a photo of the actual red and white
checked notebook that was Anne's first diary. I
longed to own a similar notebook. Stationery was
pretty dire back in the late fifties and early sixties.
There was no such thing as Paperchase. I walked
round and round the stationery counter in
Woolworths and spent most of my pocket money
on notebooks, but they weren't strong on variety.
You could have shiny red sixpenny notebooks, lined
inside, with strange maths details about rods
and poles and perches on the back. (I never found
out what they were!) Then you could have
sixpenny notebooks, etc. That was
I was enchanted to read in Dodie Smith's novel
I Capture the Castle
that the heroine, Cassandra,
was writing her diary in a similar sixpenny
notebook. She eventually progressed to a shilling
notebook. My Woolworths rarely stocked such
expensive luxuries. Then, two thirds of the way
through the book, Cassandra is given a two-guinea
red leather manuscript book. I lusted after that
fictional notebook for years.
I told my mother, Biddy. She rolled her eyes. It
could have cost two
guineas – both were
way out of our league.
'Could I maybe have a special journal for my
Christmas present?' I begged.
'Can't you use one of the notepads Harry brings
home from work?' she asked.
My dad, Harry, was a civil servant. One of the
few perks of his job was that he had an unlimited
illegal supply of notepads watermarked SO –
Stationery Office. I'd drawn on these pads for years,
I'd scribbled stories, I'd written letters. They were
serviceable but unexciting: thin cream paper
unreliably bound at the top with glue. You couldn't
write a journal in one of these notepads; it would
fall apart in days.
'I need proper covers for my secret journal. I
want it to be completely private,' I said.
Biddy scoffed at me. She didn't believe in
privacy, especially where I was concerned. But she
was always inventive with my Christmas presents
even though we had very little money. She rose to
the journal challenge.
On Christmas Day 1959, when I was just
fourteen, she gave me a book,
The Devil and Mary
by Catherine Cookson (I'd read the first two
books about this tough little Tyneside girl and
loved them); a
with a special
feature on Dirk Bogarde; a pair of American tan
nylons and my first white lace suspender belt; a
Yardley pressed powder compact in a gilt case –
and a proper journal
It wasn't quite a red-leather two-guinea job. It
was grey plastic and it didn't cost a penny. Biddy
worked as a book-keeper for Prince Machines. They
supplied some of these machine tools to Thailand.
Their customers sent them a diary as a seasonal
token. The lettering was all Thai and therefore
meaningless to me, but it was easy enough to work
out which page was 1 January.
I was thrilled with my diary. It was the size of
a book so I had quite a lot of room to write in.
Here's that first entry:
Ever since I was little I have loved writing stories
and poems. I would get an idea, buy a new exercise
book, and start writing industriously, thinking
myself the creator of a masterpiece. But by the end
of the week I would think of another better idea and
repeat the rigmarole. But now I have the better idea
of writing a diary, as I hope I will never get sick of
my own life. Besides, think of all the people who
have been made famous by their diaries. Samuel
Pepys, Fanny Burney, Marjorie Fleming, Anne
Frank, etc., etc., so why shouldn't I? I'm only very
ordinary, admittedly, but interesting things do
sometimes happen to me. But perhaps the real
reason for me starting this diary is because I find
it 'irresistible, the pleasure of popping down my
thoughts from time to time on paper'.
I was quoting Anne Frank of course. I said '
' one of my weird little writing tics, though I
didn't know any other diarists, so I shouldn't have
put even one etc., let alone two.
I wrote with a lovely old-fashioned mottled
fountain pen. My handwriting was much neater
then than it is nowadays. My spelling wasn't always
too hot. It still isn't. Thank goodness for the
spellcheck on my computer!
I had a list of new year's resolutions too. They
didn't vary from year to year. Two out of three of
them are pretty embarrassing.
Number one: Grow my hair.
When I was a baby I'd had fine, dark, straight
hair. Biddy wound the top wisp round her finger
so it stuck up in a fetching little wave. Sadly, my
hair stayed thin and straight and wispy. Biddy
continued to wave the top, forcing me to sleep
with wicked curling grips seemingly stuck
directly into my scalp. She had the rest cut very
short to try to keep it tidy. I hated my hairstyle,
though I liked going to Bentalls children's
hairdresser's because you got to crouch on a
special seat with a horse's head sticking out
between your knees. You could stroke the horse's
mane and tickle his ears while having your hair
clipped. If you were very good and didn't make a
fuss, the hairdresser (Pam or Maureen or
Marilyn) would spin you round and round when
she'd finished snipping.
Biddy was still dissatisfied with my wispy waif
appearance. She wished I had Shirley Temple
ringlets so she dragged me to her own
hairdresser's and had them perm my hair. I had
one perm after another throughout my childhood.
I hated hated hated perms. I looked as if I'd been
plugged into a light socket. I still had violent
perms the first couple of years of secondary school
and got royally teased about my frizzy hair. Girls
on the bus would snigger at my precariously
balanced school beret.
'Does your mother have to put your beret on
with a battering ram?'
Oh, very funny. As I got older I argued more
and utterly refused to have any more perms.
'I'm going to grow my hair long,' I said firmly.
'But it won't suit you, Jac. And it's too fine. It'll
go all straggly.'
'I don't care,' I said.
go straggly in that awful in-between stage.
It took such a long time to grow. I'd take hold of
it a lock at a time and pull it sharply, or I'd
sit hunched up with my neck tucked in just so
that I could kid myself my hair was nearly
It started to get horribly greasy too, much to my
horror. In those long-ago days you only washed
your hair once a week with Drene shampoo.
hair would look greasy. I'd attack my head
with dry shampoo, a ghastly white powdery
substance like chalk. It
as if I'd been rubbing
chalk through my hair after I'd applied it. I can't
understand why I didn't wash my hair properly
each day. There was some mumbo-jumbo that it
made you lose your strength!
I'd wince every time I looked in the mirror and
suddenly weaken. I'd have my hair cut and permed,
instantly hate my new middle-aged hairstyle and
vow to grow my hair all over again.
I didn't just want long hair. I wanted
too, though I didn't dare contemplate peroxide.
Biddy said Peroxide Blondes were as Common as
Muck. I longed ludicrously for natural long blonde
hair. There was a girl called Susan Wooldridge in
my year at school. She had shiny straight fair hair,
neatly plaited in two long braids tied with green
satin ribbon to match our green and grey school
uniform. I'd stand behind Susan in assembly and
stare enviously at her beautiful hair. Susan was a
pretty pink-and-white complexioned girl with a
perky personality. I didn't know her very well
because we weren't in the same class but I longed
When I woke up in the morning I'd keep my
eyes shut, clench my fists and
myself to change
places with Susan. Sometimes I'd kid myself it was
actually working. I'd feel as if I was wafting way
above the clouds, diving down over the rooftops of
New Malden and slipping into Susan's open
window. But when I dared open my eyes I always
found myself under my own ugly brown eiderdown,
and the mirror in my bedroom reflected my own
My second resolution was equally embarrassing:
Get a boyfriend.
I'd had boyfriends at my primary school – David
and then Alan – but of course they weren't
boyfriends, though we held hands and occasionally
gave each other film-star kisses. We didn't keep in
touch when we all went on to secondary school. I
went to Coombe, an all-girls school, so I obviously
wasn't going to find a new boyfriend there.
I didn't truthfully
a boyfriend, but it was
such a status symbol, especially at school. When
we all gathered together in the first year (Year
Seven) it was the first question everyone asked.
Have you got a boyfriend?
Very few of us had boyfriends the first and
second years so we could relax and not bother about
it too much, but by the third year (Year Nine) it
was starting to become imperative.
I still didn't know
to get a boyfriend.
There were lots of boys who lived in our flats –
in fact I lived right next door to two teenage
boys, Jeremy and Anthony, but I didn't
I just mumbled hello if I bumped into them on the
I was painfully aware that Biddy thought
me very backward when it came to boys. I knew
she'd had heaps of boyfriends when she was fourteen.
'Don't worry, you'll get a boyfriend soon, Jac,'
she'd say. 'Just smile at the first boy you fancy and
start chatting to him.'
'What should I
don't know. The first thing that comes into
I had a head full of daydreams. I couldn't
imagine telling any boy about my private imaginary
games, all my made-up characters and stories-in-progress.
I didn't even talk about them to my best
friends, Chris and Carol. I certainly didn't talk
about them to Biddy, who thought me weird
'I don't know how to talk to boys,' I said
'If only you weren't so
,' said Biddy. 'Still,
you can't help that, you take after your father.'
I didn't ask Harry how to talk to boys. I didn't
know how to talk to
. We could spend a
whole day together in the flat without saying a
word to each other. It was hard remembering that
Harry had once been Biddy's boyfriend. They
weren't boy and girl now – and they certainly
weren't friends either.
My third and final new year resolution was more
heartfelt and personal:
Write a book!
so-called books, heaps of them, but
they were twenty-page hand-written efforts in my
Woolworths notebooks. Most petered out halfway
through. Some only progressed for a page or two.
I didn't restrict myself to novels. I wrote a fifteen-page
biography of the child actress Mandy Miller,
embellished with photos and drawings. It was
pretty similar to all the Jacqueline Wilson projects
children show me nowadays.
I wrote the odd play too – odd being the operative
word. I once wrote about the story of Moses from
his sister Miriam's point of view. I tried poetry too,
most of it abysmal. I tried to be versatile as a writer
but at heart I've always been a novelist. I tried so
hard with my stories but I knew that none of them
were good enough to get published. I just hoped
day I'd write something worth while.
I kept that 1960 diary all the way through to
the summer, writing very detailed entries day after
day. I'll be quoting from almost every page – and