Marmalade Atkins is the main character of a series of children's books written by Andrew Davies1. Marmalade Atkins is 'the naughtiest girl in the world' and the books follow her various escapades. Each book begins with a warning to good children that Marmalade is naughty and will stay naughty, and if you like books about naughty girls becoming good you had best look somewhere else.
Marmalade is the real first name, not a nickname, of the young girl Marmalade Atkins. Originally her father had intended to call her Clementine after his favourite type of marmalade, but at the Registry Office shortly after Marmalade's birth he had been so surprised to see that the registrar was a woman that he had become confused and told her that his daughter was to be called Marmalade (instead of Clementine) by accident. When he realised his mistake he didn't mind; after all it wasn't him who would have to live with the name.
Marmalade excels at causing havoc and destruction. Attempts to educate her always fail, as she is invariably expelled from every school she attends (except in rare cases - when she runs away). In Educating Marmalade, Marmalade is sent to various different educational establishments by her parents and social workers in an attempt to improve her behaviour, and to get her out of their way for a while! However all their attempts are dismal failures because Marmalade generally likes to run wild. She annoys her parents and social workers, teams up with a diabolical donkey named Rufus so that they can wreak chaos everywhere, and tries her hand at being both a burglar and a Japanese waiter. Marmalade gets blasted off into space in a failed attempt to brainwash her into becoming good. Fortunately, she learns on the trip that it is her role to be bad, and that there would be problems with the natural order of things if she weren't.
Marmalade is an extremely naughty young girl of about ten years of age. She is rude and disobedient as well as quite cunning and inventive.
Marmalade's father Mr Atkins is a successful businessman. He makes a lot of money by selling things to rich Arab Sheikhs. Sometimes the things he sells to the Arabs don't actually belong to him - such as Nelson's Column - but he still makes plenty of money, then runs away. He owns many houses and cars, and often (deliberately) stays in one home that the rest of his family are not in at the time. He is very absent-minded.
Mrs. Atkins is not particularly fond of husband or daughter. Her favourite thing to do is to order lots of expensive goods from Harrods with her husband's money, purely to annoy him (and comfort herself a little). As he is so absent-minded he rarely notices. Mrs. Atkins has basically given up on Marmalade, but will occasionally conspire with social workers in plans to change Marmalade.
Mrs. Allgood is a social worker who is often trying to help Marmalade and her family. She is famous for her Understanding Smile.
Rufus is a diabolical donkey who is quite old; he was bought along with a farmhouse that Mr Atkins purchased. He is very cunning, tricks the other animals on the farm, and likes to push people over and stand on them. Rufus has the ability to talk, which Marmalade discovers; as they are of similar characters Rufus decides they make a good pair and the go around causing a lot of trouble. Rufus has a secret night-life - he will pretend to be a human dressed as a donkey, and go to a nearby pub where he performs a little show.
The books are hilariously farcical and not meant to be taken seriously. As Marmalade's actions are so ludicrous most children would not attempt to imitate them. Marmalade rarely suffers the consequences of her actions; she is just so bad that nothing can be done about it. Fortunately the books make for fun – rather than inspirational – reading.