Born in Carmarthen, Wales, Pearson moved to Burry Port, Carmarthenshire. She attended Market Harborough Upper School (now Robert Smyth School), then Lincoln Christ's Hospital School, both comprehensive schools. She studied English at Clare College, Cambridge,, graduating with a lower second class degree (2-2).
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Pearson began her career with the Financial Times, where she was a sub-editor, before moving to The Independent and then The Independent on Sunday in 1992. There she was assistant to Blake Morrison before becoming a TV critic, winning the award for Critic of the Year at the British Press Awards in 1993.
Pearson ended her column for the Daily Mail in April 2010, when it was said that she was to join The Daily Telegraph, with a column on her experiences of depression. In September 2010, Pearson resumed her role as a columnist with The Daily Telegraph. As of 2015, Pearson was a columnist and chief interviewer of The Daily Telegraph.
Pearson was listed in Spiked in 2007 as one of many journalists who had been duped by the anti-MMR campaign. This anti- MMR campaign has contributed to the significant rise in measles cases and complications including death that arise from the disease in the UK and elsewhere.
In May 2008, Pearson upset Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, by suggesting her daughter Princess Beatrice was overweight. On the TV programme This Morning the Duchess criticised the absent columnist. Pearson denied claims that she had failed to respond to multiple phone calls from the Duchess.
Pearson was criticised for a tweet sent less than an hour after the first of the 22 March 2016 Belgian bombings in which she linked them with the case for leaving the European Union, a position she had supported in a column.
In September 2019, Pearson falsely accused a man with a seriously ill child of wearing a microphone when confronting Boris Johnson, due to the man's allegiance for the Labour Party. Despite being presented with evidence that this was in fact, not the case, Pearson did not issue an apology and in fact doubled down.
Pearson's first novel, I Don't Know How She Does It (2002), is a "chick lit" examination of the pressures of modern motherhood. The book was a bestseller in the UK and the US, selling four million copies, and was made into a film.
Pearson was sued by Miramax for non-delivery of a second novel, I Think I Love You, for which she received a US$700,000 advance in 2003. Delivery was due in 2005: it was published in 2010. The novel, was about a teenager's passion for David Cassidy in the 1970s and the man writing the so-called replies from David Cassidy to the teenage fans, who meet up twenty years later after marriage, divorce, and children. Her newspaper, The Telegraph, praised the novel for its warmth and sincerity; The Guardian declared it an "unrealistic and sappy romance".
A sequel to I Don't Know How She Does It was published in September 2017. The novel, How Hard Can It Be, continues the story of the protagonist Kate Reddy, now approaching 50 and struggling with bias against older women in the workplace. The book attracted considerable publicity but failed to become a bestseller.
Pearson was married to fellow journalist Simon Pearson, in May 1988 in Lincoln. She subsequently lived with Anthony Lane, film critic for The New Yorker. The two never married, but have a son, (born August 1999), and a daughter, (born 25 January 1996).
Pearson was declared bankrupt on 9 November 2015, following a personal insolvency order made by the High Court of Justice in London on 9 November 2015. The bankruptcy petitioner was the Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs, implying that the case involved unpaid taxes.
- "none". Private Eye. 27 May 2008.
- Rachel Mainwaring (11 March 2011). "Teenage crush inspires new novel on David Cassidy". WalesOnline. Media Wales Ltd. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- Alison Flood, Allison Pearson revisits bestselling heroine in middle age, The Guardian, 8 April 2015.
- "Hollywood stardom for novel by Clare alumna". Alumni. Clare College. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- The Historical Register of the University of Cambridge, Supplement 1981-1985. Cambridge University Press. p. 354.
- Roy Greenslade "Telegraph woos Oborne and Pearson to quit the Daily Mail", The Guardian (Greenslade blog), 19 April 2010
- Allison Pearson "Depression's the curse of my generation and I'm struggling in its grasp", Daily Mail, 28 April 2010
- Eleanor Black, Women on the verge, p. 32, Next, (September 2010)
- "Allison Pearson". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
- "The dark art of the MMR-autism scare". www.spiked-online.com. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
- Bodkin, Henry (25 April 2019). "Measles: Half a million UK children unvaccinated amid fears of 'public health timebomb'". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
- "Pearson hits back at Duchess of York", The Guardian, 21 May 2008. Retrieved on 22 May.
- Saul, Heather (22 March 2016). "Telegraph columnist accused of 'shamelessly' using Brussels attacks to make Brexit argument". The Independent. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
- Pearson, Allison (12 January 2016). "Why the Brexit referendum will be swung by the horrific events in Cologne". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
- Pearson, Allison (1 March 2016). "Our schools and hospitals simply cannot cope with the influx of migrants - that's why we must leave the EU". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
- Ellitt, Chris (23 May 2017). "Manchester attack: intern terror suspects, urges Cambridge-based writer". Cambridge News. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
- "Miramax says British columnist failed to deliver book". 11 August 2008 – via www.reuters.com.
- Rhodes, Chloe (21 June 2010). "I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson: review". The Daily Telegraph.
- "I Think I Love You | Book review". The Guardian. 21 March 2018.
- "How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson - review". Evening Standard. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
- "A writer's life: Anthony Lane", The Daily Telegraph, 14 December 2003. Retrieved on 3 July.
- McSmith, Andy (10 January 2016). "Diary: The ideal figure to bring discipline to unruly Blairites". The Independent. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
- "Bankruptcy Orders – Pearson, Allison". The Gazette. 23 November 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
- Pearson, Allison (28 April 2010). "ALLISON PEARSON: Depression's the curse of my generation and I'm in its grasp". Daily Mail.