Here’s some general facts about me. I was born in Southend on Sea, Essex, in 1988. I attended Westcliff High School for Girls, gaining 4 and a half A*-C GCSEs. I’m often asked about the ‘half’ – it was a short course in Religious Studies. I left at 16 and worked full time in ‘odd jobs’, retail and coffee shops and waitressing, before joining Essex County Fire and Rescue Service in 2007 to work in their control room. I left in November 2011, unable to work the night shifts as a then single parent to a 20 month old son.
I started writing this blog, A Girl Called Jack, in February 2012, in response to a local councillor who claimed that ‘druggies, drunks and single mums are ruining the High Street.’ What started as a local politics blog developed into budget food and recipes, which were picked up with interest by the national press as I wrote about living with Small Boy on a budget of just £10 a week. I’ve often said that the Daily Telegraph article by Xanthe Clay, ‘My 49p Lunch With A Girl Called Jack’, was the moment that changed my life.
I had a keen interest in cooking at school, but apart from one D grade GCSE at the age of 16, I’ve never really had any formal food education. I just cook stuff, eat stuff and write about stuff.
My first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, was published by Michael Joseph at Penguin in February 2014, and went straight to the top of the paperback charts. My second cookbook, also published by Penguin, is due out in October 2014.
I am a campaigner, fronting a petition with Unite, The Trussell Trust and The Mirror demanding politicians debate the causes of foodbank use and hunger in Britain. Within 4 days the petition had secured 100,000 signatures, and the debate was held in the House Of Commons three weeks later. I’m an ambassador for Oxfam, from being a case study in their April 2013 report ‘Walking The Breadline’, to travelling to Tanzania to learn about women and agriculture.
I’m a proudly out lesbian woman, and in 2014 was listed in The Independent On Sunday’s Pink List at number 19. I have appeared on the front cover of Diva magazine, and contributed to several issues. I came out publicly, in an article in the Huffington Post on London Pride day in 2013.
I write a weekly recipe column for The Guardian, and regularly contribute as a political journalist to The Mirror, The Independent and The Guardian. I’m a regular on the Sky News sofa, Channel 4 and BBC radio, commenting on food, politics, and current affairs. I recently went busking with Billy Bragg as part of The Guardian’s ‘Do Something’ series.
In 2013, I won the Fortnum and Mason Food and Drink Award for ‘inspiring people to enjoy, experiment and explore food’, the Red Magazine ‘Hot Women’ award for my blog, and the YMCAs ‘Courage And Inspiration’ award. I also featured in a Sainsburys television campaign in January 2014.
I live in West London, with my partner and our two young children.
“She is a breath of fresh air in the cooking world” – Nigel Slater.
“Every now and then a food writer with a fresh and authentic voice comes along, and Jack Monroe is that rare find. Her recipes are founded on the ideal of eating well on a budget, but there is nothing drab about her food: it’s as vibrant as her voice; and A Girl Called Jack is full of food with bold flavour, recipes that beg to become part of your daily repertoire. This is a book with charm and brio, and a true helpmeet in the kitchen.” – Nigella Lawson.
“Compelling, if sobering reading.” – Lisa Markwell, The Independent on Sunday.
“A cross between Yvette Cooper and Delia Smith, with tattoos.” – Richard Littlejohn, The Daily Mail.
Updated May 2014.
Jack Monroe || Twitter: @MsJackMonroe || http://www.agirlcalledjack.com
‘Four and a half’ GCSEs-how did you get a half??
Also wanting to know about the half x
Short course Religious Studies, only counted as a half grade. Not sure if they still do it!
They do still do it! WHSG are definitely the kind of school to see the importance in halves…
Which reminds me, I have been reading your blog for yonks and never realised we went to the same school in the same home town. Who knew! Small world 🙂
Not sure if I already posted this, but WHSG do still do the half GCSEs (because halves matter so much to them).
Also noticed after ages of reading your blog, we went to the same school in the same home town. Who knew! Small world 😀
I got half an ‘0’ level when my husband-to-be was forced to do Environmental Studies (a very vague subject, easy to waffle on about) to make his timetable legal. He wanted to concentrate on getting a good grade in Geology to qualify for Uni, so I did the homework and he did the exam. I cribbed most of it from my school essays. He passed, so we shared it! Having to fake his handwriting for a year means I now write like him, with no dots on the i’s – and that was 43 years ago!!!
All those tattoos – ouch! You’ll have to start wearing shorts soon, Jack! All the best to you and yours, and I look forward to pre-ordering your next book.
Hi Jack as an Old Westcliffian myself (also taught by Mrs Farquhar) and having a daughter in Year seven there I can confirm that they do still do the half RE qualification! Love your book and can’t wait for the new one xx
Hi Jack, I was thoroughly confused by your newly reformatted layout. Looks great though now that I know I landed in the right spot. ; )
This makes things more readable but I admit I do miss the animated photo collage! I loved ogling the food pictures in order to decide which to investigate further and to see the background story of how it came into being.
Thanks as always for sharing so much about yourself. Your stories and recipes are inspiring. Keep up the good fight!
Love the mug. Might be the fact Allegra’s my name too
So glad there’s going to be a follow up cookbook! Can’t wait to see a preview 🙂
Reblogged this on Tangent and commented:
I think I’ll have to buy the book…
You could tell Littlejohn to shove his compliments and not use them. After what he said about you, quoting him, you endorse him more than he does you.
Just wanted to say, have just bought your book and am ever so impressed, it’s the first cookbook I’ve bought that I’ve been able to make things straight from the stuff I already have in the house 🙂 my wee man is having currant soda bread muffins in the morning 🙂
Reblogged this on William Bellingham Cairnes and his family :Victorian Pioneer and commented:
Was an earlier adopter of Jack’s blog. She gives me hope .
Jack, it is great finding out a bit more about you. I like the mention to the ‘4 and a half A*-C GCSEs’. You have gone such a long way and you are an inspiration to so many. Keep doing what you are doing! I started following you in May or June last year and was won over from the first post I read. If I remember well, it was one of your letters to the council. Mel
I’m glad you’ve changed the layout, I struggled to figure out which way was up on the old one!
I’m curious, do you ever make things that turn out awful? I’m often too scared to try something in case it’s terrible and it’s wasted food.
Hi jack hope you are well!!! I bought your book (like I said I would!!!) love the recipes Blake is thoroughly enjoying them aswell 🙂 x
🙂 Yay glad you like it! Hope you’re all good xxxx
Heads up from Germany. Keep telling my friends that your blog is a must read … So glad I found it. All the best!
I just came across your first food tube video and I think you are amazing as far as I have read this website and saw the video :).
Will be following you and definitely going to try out some recipes next week!
Greetings from a food lover from the Netherlands,
I’m anxiously awaiting your second book. Loved your food tube video.