Jacqueline Wilson says David Walliams books are 'silly and vulgar'

Jacqueline Wilson says David Walliams books are 'silly and vulgar'

August 18, 2023

Tracy Beaker author Jacqueline Wilson calls David Walliams’s books ‘farty, silly and vulgar’ – but admits he’s got more boys reading

  • Wilson, 77, said she wouldn’t have been keen on Walliams’ style as a child 
  • Read more:  Tracy Beaker author Jacqueline Wilson is ‘against meddling with adult classics’ as she wades into censorship row

Jacqueline Wilson isn’t a huge fan of David Walliams’ work – despite the British comic’s work being a huge hit with children, it seems. 

Walliams has written a slew of children’s books in recent years – including Gangsta Granny, Billionaire Boy and his latest, The World’s Worst Monsters – making him one of the UK’s best-selling children’s authors.

However, celebrated British novelist Wilson has admitted that his work isn’t her cup of tea. 

Speaking to The i newpaper, Tracy Beaker author Dame Jacqueline said the Little Britain star’s books were ‘farty, vulgar and silly’.

Celebrated children’s author Jacquline Wilson has admitted she’s not a huge fan of David Walliams – saying she’s only read one of his books and wouldn’t have read his work if he was around when she was a child

The 77-year-old writer told the newspaper: ‘I’ve only read one David Walliams. I don’t think they are the sort of books I would have wanted [to read as a child] because they’re humorous, but farty and silly and vulgar.’

However, the former Children’s Laureate conceded that he’s very good at what he does, saying: ‘He’s incredibly successful. And if he gets particularly little boys chortling and reading, good thing.’

Earlier this week, Wilson called for a stop on ‘meddling’ with books that are no longer considered appropriate, saying that while many of the themes in classic literature can seem out of place in modern society, they should be left alone.

She cited the ‘mad woman in the attic’ in Jane Eyre as an example, saying someone with serious mental health issues would not be depicted in the same way now.

Walliams has been compared to Roald Dahl, but Wilson said she was impressed by his 

But Dame Jacqueline added that she was for editing some children’s books because youngsters ‘still haven’t got the power to sort things out and have a sense of history’.

It comes after she admitted she would not have her written her 2005 book Love Lessons about a 14-year-old girl falling in love with her art teacher, who reciprocates.

Dame Jacqueline has spoken out about censorship and cancel culture in recent days while promoting her new book ‘The Best Sleepover In the World’, out on Thursday.

On ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB), presenter Richard Madeley spoke to her about ‘publishers who are altering the text of books because they think that times have changed so much that it’s sort of damaging for children to read how we lived then’.

Asked for her view, Dame Jacqueline responded: ‘I’m a kind of middle of the road person, I think it depends how it’s done.

‘There are some things I think that would make us a bit worried if we returned to our old children’s favourites and read them with fresh eyes, we might be a bit surprised.

‘I think with children, they often absorb texts, they still haven’t got the power to sort things out and have a sense of history.

‘However I’m very against meddling with adult classics. I was just thinking about Jane Eyre the other day, I mean with the ‘mad woman in the attic’ and the way she’s depicted.

‘You’d never find that sort of treatment of people with serious mental health problems. And yet, you know, I would be absolutely at the forefront of people saying no, leave it alone, it’s my favourite book. So I think it depends.’

Dame Jacqueline Wilson with her partner Trish at The Savoy Hotel in London in July 2017

Among the well-known books censored in recent years to remove language now deemed inappropriate have been Agatha Christie’s novels, titles by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Malory Towers books and Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.

Dame Jacqueline was also asked about cancel culture on GMB today, and said: ‘I’m of the old school. I think why can’t everybody just talk things over, discuss things? You don’t have to agree with someone, but I think it’s more helpful to actually get to the bottom of what’s making people so angry.

Dame Jacqueline Wilson with Danielle Harmer, who played Tracy Beaker in the BBC TV adaptation of her 1999 book, The Story of Tracy Beaker

‘But whether I’d feel that in the midst of a baying crowd or not, I don’t know. I mean, life’s changed so much. It’s good that people can make it clear what they feel, but I do think a little bit of discussion…’

She also backed recent calls for children to develop their ‘oracy’, which aims to help them become more articulate, and assemble their ideas and express them.

Dame Jacqueline’s comments today came after she gave an interview to The Guardian last week in which she spoke of her concerns over her book Love Lessons.

The book sees 14-year-old Prue fall in love with an art teacher – before they kiss, and he says he loves her as well.

Tracy Beaker was a huge hit for BBC children’s television and spawned a number of spin-offs

Asked if she would write the book today, she said: ‘No. It’s so different now. Well, I did have my doubts then.’

And when the interviewer pointed out that Prue would now be seen as a victim and the teacher as a paedophile, Dame Jacqueline said: ‘Yes, that’s very true. And it does change things around so much.’

It comes after research by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals released in April found that a third of librarians had been asked by members of the public to censor or remove books, particularly on themes involving empire, race and LGBTQ+ themes.

There is a similar issue in America, where writers’ organisation Pen America said in the same month that book bans in US public schools rose by 28 per cent in the first half of the 2022/23 academic year. Again, race and LGBTQ+ themes were prominent in many of the banned books.

Former Children’s Laureate Dame Jacqueline has sold more than 40 million books.

Last year she published The Magic Faraway Tree: A New Adventure, a re-imagining of Blyton’s story about three children who discover enchanted lands at the top of an enormous tree.

Her latest book is The Best Sleepover in the World, a sequel to her 2001 bestseller Sleepovers.

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