ABOUT JACK

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Jack Monroe was born in Southend on Sea, Essex, in 1988. She attended Westcliff High School For Girls in Essex, gaining 4 and a half A*-C GCSEs. She left at the age of 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. She left in November 2011, unable to work the night shifts as a single parent to a then 20 month old son.

Jack started writing her 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 she detailed living with her son on a food budget of just £10 a week. She describes the Daily Telegraph article by Xanthe Clay, ‘My 49p Lunch With A Girl Called Jack’, as the moment that changed her life.

Jack had a keen interest in cooking at school, but in her own words, ‘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.’

Her 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. Her second cookbook, also published by Penguin, is due out in October 2014.

Jack is an active 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. She is 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.

Jack is an out lesbian woman, and in 2014 was listed in The Independent On Sunday’s Pink List at number 19. She has appeared on the front cover of Diva magazine, and contributed to several issues. She came out publicly, in an article in the Huffington Post on London Pride day in 2013.

Jack writes a weekly recipe column for The Guardian, and regularly contributes as a political journalist to The Mirror, The Independent and The Guardian. She is a regular on the Sky News sofa, Channel 4 and BBC radio, commenting on food, politics, and current affairs. She recently went busking with Billy Bragg as part of The Guardian’s ‘Do Something’ series.

She 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 her blog, and the YMCAs ‘Courage And Inspiration’ award. She also featured in a Sainsburys television campaign in January 2014.

Jack lives in West London, with her partner and their two 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

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52 thoughts on “ABOUT JACK

  1. From the young girl in high school who sang at Star for a Night….to where and what you are now – I am amazed and proud of your strength both physical and mental. I can say with certainty you inspire others xx

  2. Hi Jack. Love your stuff. Keep up the good work and dont let the buggers ever get you down. Your life will turn out well, of that I have no doubt.

  3. so,
    a) do you work?
    b) do you pay taxes ?
    c) do you pay your own rent / mortgage ?
    Bet the answer is:
    a) Not legally / declared.
    b) No way.
    c) No, housing benefit / child benefit etc

    • a) Yes I work.
      b) Apart from a period of unemployment from November 2011 – September 2012, yes I have always paid taxes.
      c) Yes I pay my rent, and rent private accommodation.

      I hope you didn’t actually bet on that, because you lost on all three counts.

      • Well said, Jack. It is unbelievable that there are people who really believe that anyone would want to be poor, on benefits and not work and that they think that people would actually opt for this in some way as an easy option. I am lucky. For now at least money is OK but who knows how long this will last as life is so unpredictable. I pay taxes and believe that this is necessary to ensure that society is a decent place for my kids to grow up in. I have three kids and as our whole family is vegetarian I just love your blog and have cooked many similar things myself on many occasions. I am lucky enough to be able to afford some luxuries for now but processed food is something that I try really hard to avoid as strongly believe that meat and processed foods are one the reasons that we have so many health problems (particularly cancer) in our society. I may be wrong but I am much happier to actually know what my kids are eating! Oh, and jam! Don’t forget jam. So much free fruit out there at the right time of year! Good luck with it all. I now have a big list of your recipies to try out! :)

    • please don’t think all people are the same. I am in Australia and I have a friend who has 2 kids, she is on single parents benefits as hubby left and pays nothing. She regularly has little food, no toilet paper, and struggles day to day. she does not ask for help and conceals her hardship. The benefits were reduced and she does have some work but she is sick with worry.

  4. If there’s one thing I hate about the internet it’s people who slag off others whilst not being prepared to give their real names. It’s just cowardice.

  5. Loved your inspiring article in the Evening Echo. Picked up a copy in Ambleside College Cafe.Very inspiring and real ‘grassroots’ understanding of life. I predict you are on the verge of a new Journalistic career, as well as giving Talks to Young Mums’groups and the like. Am going to photocopy your article and tell others about your website. Well done Jack!

  6. I read an article about you in The Telegraph today. I believe that you have a good career in journalism (and related fields ) ahead of you. Well done for being perceptive, creative and determined. I don’t know which I am most impressed with – your cooking and budgetary skills or your awareness and writing skills. Anyway, you’ve made my day with your enterprise and I will read your blog whenever I get the time.
    Jack of all trades – tip top.

  7. Two words ‘go girl’. Saw you on tv this morning, very impressed with your outlook and attitude. I will be following your blogs from now on.

  8. I also saw you on the news this morning. You are a real inspiration to other young people out there. Really love your ‘can do’ attitude. Looking forward to trying out your recipes even although i am not on a tight budget – they looked yummy!

  9. Absolutely inspired by your feature on bbc Breakfast. I’m going to try your cooking for a week. You are great.

  10. I have been this broke when I was young growing up with my single parent Mum and not quite so, on recent occasions. I think you highlighting, through various medias, poverty in the UK is fantastic and I applaud you for taking the bit between your teeth and getting it out there!

    New follower here!

    With respect

    Jonquil x

  11. Wow- your T.V. interview moved me to tears – my ‘children’ are your age/generation and you are an inspiration – hope you (and your little boy) have a lovely life; we have tried the lentil burgers and they were wonderful.. Everything that goes around comes around – and you and many others of your generation are going back to ‘real’ cooking – well done. Debbie

  12. Our children provide us with our strength and inspiration. Looks like you you have harnessed yours wisely. Well done and best wishes for your very bright future. Great blog- can’t wait to get started on the recipes.

  13. I just wanted to say I think your blog and recipes in particular are brilliant! Money is always tight for me so I will definitely be trying out some of your recipes! I also happen to work in a supermarket so I am lucky in the way I will get 10% off as well! Thanks again, I think a lot of people in Britain especially could learn from you!

  14. Please email me and I’ll give you my phone number. I live in Southend too and I’d really like to help you out with some weekly foodshopping. We could meet at sainsburys in Southend.

    Sarah x

  15. Your son is going to grow up to be an amazing man with a role model such as yourself, showing him drive, determination and positive thinking ! Amazing what you’ve achieved ! Inspiring !

  16. I understand that you’ve got a job now as a reporter, and a book deal. WELL DONE. The next step (if you’re up for it) is to get elected as a MP. Heaven knows this country needs honorable representatives who’ve actually HAD a job outside of politics – and have tasted the utter despair & degradation of being branded scroungers by the weak minded people who’ve been brainwashed by this governments propaganda machine. Speaking of propaganda, if you want an insight into the ideology of this gov & it’s continual vilification of the weak, unemployed, disabled etc then read the study by Dr Mark Mostert, it’s titled “Useless eaters”, Here’s the web address – http://www.regent.edu/acad/schedu/uselesseaters/today.html
    I’m sure you’ll find it disturbing – I did !!

  17. Jack, you are an amazing woman. I am a volunteer for The Foodbank and I know the hardship that so many people are going though. It makes me so mad when the recipients of food parcels are described as wasters and scroungers because I know that the vast majority of them are just like you, deperate for work or even have a job but so badly paid they cannot manage their rent and bills as well as food.
    Please keep going and if you do stand for Parliament I would vote for you.

  18. Jack, you are truly inspirational. I like to think that I’m pretty good at rustling something up from bits left in the fridge, but you are doing it much better, on a budget much less than mine. Best of luck in the future – I would love to see you as an MP!

  19. I heard about your blog at a WI meeting and don’t often use the Internet but wanted to tell you how wonderful your recipes and how inspiring you must be for many many peoplr

  20. Wonderful wonderful stuff. Well done you for being so proactive and positive throughout all the trials you’ve been through. I’m sure you will keep moving onwards and upwards Jack!

  21. Hi jack I am a worn out taxi driver in Liverpool I want you for prime mine roster the merger cat John good luck

  22. Jack – I’ve only just discovered you after getting myself back into some sort of financial normality (by which I mean lots of debt but at least they are now being paid off in comparison to last year when I couldn’t see a light at the end of it).
    I’m currently sitting on the sofa, in my onesie feeling poorly so going to make the most of it and delve into your treasure trove of recipes and write them into my cook book ready for shopping on a budget this weekend.
    Thank you so much for all your hard work and for making some incredible (albeit why-didn’t-i-think-of-that) recipes! Excited! X

  23. Thankyou for leading by example, all single parents are not the same. I, like you get mad at the constant negativity about single parents – It is exactly the same here in Oz.

  24. I was feeling so low today finding myself in a similar situation and looking after my teenage son. As the not so unusual single Dad I find it hard to make ends meet but Jack your words have inspired me that no matter how much others don’t care I do and will use you as my inspiration

    Much love thoughts and respect

    D x

  25. Hi Jack you are very inspirational and very brave and i really believe you have a real good chance to change the views of so many people in regards to what is important about the situation you found your self in. And surviving on less, there is far to much convenience which costs a fortune only to go into the profit of some fat cat . LOOK WHERE THATS GETING US .. Good luck with every thing. paul Dodsworth. France.

  26. Hey Jack, I didn’t know about your blog or books before but for some reason watched question time last night for first time in months. and thought your comments fresh and poignant. Thanks!

  27. Tried Tradgedy Mash, bought your book and saw you on Question Time all on the same day. Thanks for all!

  28. Working as a volunteer with families in similar circumstances to those you describe has been a real eye opener to me in my comfortable existence. I have learned all about benefit gaps, bailiffs and how to survive for 6-10 weeks with no income without resorting to crime. Every day is a struggle for some families and yet they find the strength to keep going and often the compassion to help others too. I found your work today and felt very inspired – thank you. A copy of your book already on my Kindle and will be in the hands of ‘my’ mums shortly.

  29. I have been reading your column in the Guardian since you began.
    I am a pensioner in fairly comfortable circumstances now, but 40 – 50 years ago bringing up a family would have welcomed such help! And I still find your recipes useful and tasty regardless of cost. Keep it up – your ideas are needed.

  30. Jack, just wanted to say you were great on question time! You are an inspiration! Hope you go from strength to strength, I definately hope you do look at going into politics, this country needs strong sensible people like you to tell it like it is. But keep on doing what you’re doing, be happy x

  31. At last! Someone talking real sense on QT ……. normally I head off to bed, leaving my husband shouting at the panel, but luckily I hung around and was rewarded by your honest, incisive take on how life really IS for many people in 21st century Britain. I had never heard of you till then Jack, but will be following your journey. By chance ( I think!), I was shopping in Sainsbury’s last night and spotted your book and spent the rest of the evening reading it and drooling over the fantastic recipes. My husband, like me, was chastened and moved by Hunger Hurts and HH twelve months on.
    You are a remarkable young woman and I look forward to you seeing and hearing much more about you in the public arena! You have given great hope to a 63 year old woman and a 77 year old man in rural Shropshire ……. keep it up!!!

  32. My youngest daughter is working her way through a masters in London and struggling financially – she asked me for some economical recipes – in the next couple of days I heard Jack being interviewed on radio 2 about her new book “a girl calledJack” it was amazing. I bought the book for youngest daughter but after reading it also ordered it for myself, eldest daughter read it and loved it so I bought if for her too – next was second son “get me that book Mum it’s great”‘ we all love it, not just for the fabulous recipes not just for the cheap meals but because jack is refreshing, interesting, plausible and real – thank you

  33. Hello Jack,
    I am recently preparing for my cooking GCSEs and I think you are a massive inspiration for the recipes that I do :)
    The peach and lentil curry is delicious!

  34. Wish i could find some articulate way to let you know exactly how much you mean to so many people. You have made those weeks (or months) when i am scrabbling around the backs of empty cupboards looking for an interesting way to feed two toddlers something i can be proud of. Reading your story shows us that struggling isn’t something to be ashamed of but something that proves what we are really made of. Love you so much and i hope you get all the happiness you deserve.

  35. Hi Jack. I just want to say a huge thank you for writing this blog. I have never suffered from food poverty but I, like many others, find it hard to make ends meet and I am also trying to cook healthy meals on a budget. I have only just discovered your blog and your story and I am really amazed. You are an inspiration! Thank you. Jo x

  36. You are so inspiring. I used to be a single parent . I was raised well but ended up a single parent with very little support. My life changed. I vowed to bring my child up in a loving home but there were times I’d have to wear sandals in the autumn (I couldn’t afford boots as my heel broke) all money I had went on bills and making sure my daughter was okay. I struggled for years . As I was nicely spoken , dressed nicely (my clothes came from second hand stores too ) people assumed I was living a good life. I even had a neighbour in the street where I rented a flat , think I was a nanny ! People’s assumptions of others can be so wrong. They didn’t see me cry when I couldn’t afford bread and my then three year old emptied her pennies from her money box to help us eat. I’m now happily married to an amazing man. I have another child and gone are the days where I struggle to feed and clothe my family. However the reality of the struggle makes me grateful everyday for what I have now. People should stop judging and maybe realize life isn’t black and white. You are amazing Jack.

  37. I read about your book in a Danish paper and immediately ordered a copy. I am really impressed both of your own story, and your engangement in fighting against food poverty both the political way and with your lovely recepies, which are delicate and simple to prepare. Plus your sensible advice at the end of the book. I hope your bext book will be in the same line. You are greatly inspiring.
    How do you manage to grow coriander and parsley in a window sill? When I try, they look more than sad within no time. So some good advice would be appreciated.
    All the best. Trine, Denmark

    .

  38. You are an amazing human being. Your intelligence and personnality are rare! I am a foreign girl in london, trying to make sense of the low paid job/expensive rent system and your blog is an inspiration.

  39. Dear Jack
    Borrowed your book of my wonderful librarian Lillan in our mobile library yesterday.
    Cried my way through Hunger Hurt today.
    Was a single mother when my son was little. We could always afford to eat, but rarely afford meat. And I dreaded dental bills and other expensive things that could topple our budget.
    Mentally I was helped because the Simple-livning movement came to Denmark and I could say to myself; “It is much better for the environment that I can not buy anything.”
    Hope it’s okay that I’m writing about your book and your blog on det-enkle-liv.dk which is a blog about living simple?
    Thank you for your amazing inspiration – I wanted to sign up as a volunteer for Mødrehjælpen – which helps single parents in DK, although I have promised myself not to do more volunteer work after 32 years of faithful service:-) But I can always run down and give them something to help out.

    All the best!
    SusieQ

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