Remembering Sue Townsend, Author of 'Adrian Mole' Series

Sue Townsend, author of the beloved Adrian Mole book series, has died aged 68. Townsend had been diagnosed with diabetes in the 1980s and in recent years had undergone a kidney transplant as well as suffering a stroke. She passed away on 10th April after what was described as a short illness.

Sue Townsend Adrian MoleAuthor Sue Townsend has died, aged 68 years old

After leaving school at the age of just 15, Townsend took on a variety of jobs, including working as a shop assistant and in a factory. By the time she was 22 years old she married with three children. It wasn’t until her thirties, when she joined a writers' group in Leicester, that she had the opportunity to dedicate herself to writing.

The first Adrian Mole book, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 and 3/4, was published in 1982 and was an immediate successful. By 1985 the book had sold near 2 million copies, and Britain was enamoured with Townsend’s hapless protagonist. The series captured the zeitgeist of the Thatcher period, as well as uncannily tapping into the long suffering psyche of a teenage boy.

Despite being left blind since 2001, Townsend continued to publish her Adrian Mole books, the eighth of which was published in 2009. The series saw Adrian grow from a angst-ridden teen, with unattainable dreams of literary greatness and wracked with passion for the love of his life, the very middle-class Pandora, to an Adrian on the cusp of 40, married to another but still dreaming of his childhood sweetheart.

Several of the Adrian Mole installments were adapted for television, theatre and radio, while another of her bestsellers, The Queen and I, published in 1992 gained immense popularity. The novel focused on the royal family being forced to take up normal life on a housing estate as the result of a republican revolution.

In 2008 Sue Townsend was awarded an honorary Masters of Arts degree from Leicester University, to join her honorary PhD from Loughborough University, where she was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2009 the city of Leicester awarded the author with the Honorary Freedom of Leicester.

Sue Townsend was as loved in her personal life as for her professional contribution. Stephen Mangan, who played Adrian Mole in a television adaption of the series, told Radio 4, “There was something really special about Sue…She was warm, she was funny, she was self-deprecating. She was incredibly encouraging.”

Our thoughts go out to her family. We leave you readers with our favourite Adrian Mole quote, “Perhaps when I am famous and my diary is discovered people will understand the torment of being a 13 3/4 year old undiscovered intellectual.” RIP, Sue Townsend.

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