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