English novelist Sue Townsend, best known as the author of the Adrian Mole books, has died aged 68.
Sue Townsend was born in Leicester in 1946 and left school at 15 years of age. She married at 18, and by 23 was a single parent with three children. She worked in a variety of jobs including factory worker, shop assistant, and as a youth worker on adventure playgrounds. She wrote in secret for twenty years, eventually joining a writers’ group at the Phoenix Theatre, Leicester in her thirties.
At the age of 35, she won the Thames Television Playwright Award for her first play, Womberang, and started her writing career, becoming most well-known for her series of books about Adrian Mole, which she originally began writing in 1975.
The first of these, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ was published in 1982 and was followed by The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1984). These two books made her the best-selling novelist of the 1980s. They have been followed by several more in the same series including Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years (1993); Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (2004); and most recently Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (2009). The books have been adapted for radio, television and theatre; the first being broadcast on radio in 1982.
In 2008 Townsend was made a Distinguished Honorary Fellow of Leicester University, the highest award the University can give. She was an Honorary Doctor of Letters at Loughborough University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her other awards include the James Joyce Award of the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin, and the Frink Award at the Women of the Year Awards. In 2009 she was given the Honorary Freedom of Leicester.
Her last novel, The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, was published in 2012.