A. John Bird and Adoption

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A. Bird at the launch of a Big Society initiative



Also known as Jacob Breakfast

British Editor

Bird is the founder of The Big Issue, the magazine produced and sold by the homeless in Britain. He was one of six sons of a poor London family. After his parents were evicted from their apartment for non-payment of rent in 1951 the family lived in one room in his grandmother's home, then when he was seven he and his brother were taken into care and sent to the Catholic Damascus House orphanage in North London. He stayed for three years and then was reunited with his parents. The next few years he spent in increasingly disturbed and antisocial behavior, and he was sent to a detention center. He was expelled from the Chelsea School of Art at 18. At 21 he fled the police to France where he spent several years until returning to Britain.

In 1991 the Roddick family (founders of the Body Shop) hired him to found The Big Issue, which he still heads. In 1995 he was named Editor's Editor. He is also an adviser to the British government on social exclusion. Jacob Breakfast is a pseudonym he formerly used as a poet.


Beckett, Andy. "The Guardian Profile: John Bird: Bonaparte of the Homeless," The Guardian [London], 12 December 1998, Saturday Review, pp. 6-7 Heartfield, James. "I Am the Untermenschen [Interview]." [Includes portrait]. Formerly available at: Bray, Richard. "Comment: The Big Issues [Interview]," Cherwell Online, Issue 5 (Hilary 1997). Formerly available at: