Bel Mooney was born in 1946. She is an English journalist and broadcaster born in Liverpool, and spent her early years in Liverpool on a municipal estate. Mooney became a journalist in 1969 and then wrote for New Statesman, Daily Telegraph Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and many others. She was a columnist for the Daily Mirror, The Times, and The Sunday Times. She has honorary degrees from the University of Bath and Liverpool John Moores University, and is a member of University College London. Devout Skeptics (BBC Radio 4) won a Sandford St Martin Trust award for religious broadcast, and the children’s novel The Voices of Silence won a quote from the New York Public Library and was shortlisted for a Gold Medal in the State of California. She has won special awards for journalism from charities like CRUSE. Mooney is also a member of the Teenage Cancer Trust (South West) and National Family Mediation. After becoming famous as a journalist, columnist and broadcaster, she devoted herself to writing fiction for adults and children. In total, she published 26 books for children and young people. Her fiction (adults and children) has been translated into eleven languages. Mooney has reviewed fiction and nonfiction for many newspapers, including Spectator, The Observer, The Times, and Times Literary Supplement. She has been a judge of the Whitbread Book of the Year (now Costa) and the Orange Award.
She is 73 years old.
Mooney was born at Broadgreen Hospital, Liverpool, the son of Gladys (née Norbury) and Edward Mooney. She spent her early years in Liverpool at a council estate called The Green on Queen’s Drive. She passed her 11th and older and went to Aigburth Vale High School for Girls. Mooney moved to Wiltshire at the age of fourteen, when her parents bought their first home. She then attended school in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, at Trowbridge Girls’ High School (a girls’ elementary school that merged with a boys’ elementary school to become The John of Gaunt Comprehensive School in 1974). She passed eight levels O and took English, Latin, and art at level A. She unsuccessfully applied to Oxford University (at that time no one from her school had been admitted to Oxford), and then studied English and Literature at University College from London, where she earned a distinguished First in 1969.
Giving up her idea of graduate work, Mooney became a journalist in 1969, first contributing to the Bath Chronicle and the Times Educational Supplement (while teaching part-time in Bath) and then landed his first job at Nova Magazine as an Assistant Editor. In the early 1970s, Mooney wrote for the New Statesman, Daily Telegraph Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and many others. From 1979 to 1980 she was a columnist for the Daily Mirror. She has also been a regular columnist for The Times (2005–07), The Sunday Times (1982–83), and The Listener (1984–86). From 1970 to 1979, she was an independent journalist. (Her reference to Margaret Thatcher in Nova magazine in 1973 as ‘possible future prime minister’ is believed to be the first such suggestion in the media.) In January 1976 she wrote a deeply personal article for The Guardian newspaper about the experience of having a dead child. This article would have far-reaching effects, as it was the first time that a journalist had written on the subject with such raw sentiment, and it directly inspired a shift in awareness of how to deal with stillbirth. She was instrumental in founding the Fetal Death Society, which would later become known as the Neonatal and Fetal Death Society. In addition to her fiction, Mooney has written many other books, including ‘Somerset of Bel Mooney’ (1989) and a memoir on love, loss, recovery and dogs: ‘Small dogs can save your life. ‘(2010).
Novelist and children’s author
After becoming famous as a journalist, columnist and broadcaster, she devoted herself to writing fiction for adults and children. In 1985, she collaborated with Gerald Scarfe on a satire about Margaret Thatcher and her government, called Father Kissmas and Mother Claws. Mooney’s adult novels are The Windsurf Boy (1983), The Anderson Question (1985), The Four of July (1988), Lost Footsteps (1993), Intimate Letters (1993), and The Invasion of Sand (2005). She is the author of the best-selling Kitty and Friends series of stories for girls, including I Don’t Want To! So what ?, inspired by her own daughter, Katherine. There were 13 volumes in total, published 1985-2002. She then wrote a series of six books inspired by her little dog Bonnie, with titles like Big Dog Bonnie and Brave Dog Bonnie. In total, she published 26 books for children and young people. Additionally, Bel Mooney has written many short stories for magazines and collections. Published in France as Petula, Big Dog Bonnie was shortlisted for the prestigious Tam-Tam Award in France. Her fiction (adults and children) has been translated into twelve languages. Mooney has reviewed fiction and nonfiction for many newspapers, including Spectator, Observer, Times, and Times Literary Supplement. She has been a judge of the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year (1986) and the Orange Prize (2008).
She was a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 4 from 1982 to 2008, especially as host of Devout Skeptics, a show dedicated to the private beliefs of public figures – the participants weren’t necessarily agnostics or atheists, as the title might suggest. She also made many series for Channel 4 (for example Mothers By Daughters, 1983) and BBC2 (Grief, 1994) and unique documentaries about people like Ellen Wilkinson MP and Dora Russell. In the 1990s, Mooney was interviewed many times on radio and television regarding environmental campaigns. She was particularly involved, like her ex-husband, in the campaign against the Batheaston Bypass in 1993-1995. During the 80s and 90s he wrote six novels and made many programs for television and Radio 4.
In June 2007, she began writing a weekly column for the Saturday edition of the Daily Mail (after two years in the same role in The Times), advising readers on emotional and relationship issues, and contributing other commentary articles. to the newspaper, as well as regular book reviews.
Awards and charitable work
She received the title, Hon D. Litt., From the University of Bath in 1998 and was named an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University in 2002 and is a Fellow of University College London. Devout Skeptics (BBC Radio 4) won a Sandford St Martin Trust award for religious broadcast, and the children’s novel The Voices of Silence won a New York Public Library Book of the Year quote and was shortlisted for a Gold Medal in the state of California. She has won special awards for journalism from charities like CRUSE. In the 1990s, he participated in the establishment of a new literary festival in Bath, and introduced the first ‘performer’, Ted Hughes, in 1996. From 2002 to 2011, she participated in the charity fundraiser in Bath, as president of the Egg Appeal (to build a dedicated theater for young people), as President of Royal United Hospital to create a new NICU unit (Neonatal Intensive Care) and as President of the 2010 call to renovate Theater Royal, Bath, Cartwheel. She served on that theater’s board of directors until 2015. Mooney is also Patron of National Family Mediation (NFM) and Relate. In 2018 she became Founder-Patron of the SANDS charity, on its fortieth anniversary.
Husband & Children
Mooney was married to television journalist Jonathan Dimbleby for thirty-five years. During their married life they maintained an organic farm. The couple separated in 2004 after Jonathan Dimbleby’s romance with opera singer Susan Chilcott; they divorced in 2006. Mooney and Dimbleby have two adult children, Kitty (born 1980), a freelance journalist and charity consultant, and Daniel (born 1974), producer / television director. On September 8, 2007, Mooney married Robin Allison-Smith, formerly a freelance photographer, now a businessman, with whom she lives on the outskirts of Bath, Somerset.