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. 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. Jack writes a weekly recipe column for The Guardian.