News Desk

Sue Townsend 1946-2014

Novelist Sue Townsend, best known as the author of the successful Adrian Mole series, died on the 10th of April 2014.

Sue Townsend  was an English writer and humorist whose work encompasses novels, plays and works of journalism. She is best known for creating Adrian Mole. She started out writing in secret from the time she was 14.

Sue Townsend first became known for her plays, her signature character first appearing in a radio drama, but her work soon expanded into other forms. She enjoyed great success in the 1980s, with her Adrian Mole books selling more copies than any other work of fiction in Britain during the decade. This series, which eventually encompassed nine books, takes the form of the character’s diaries. The earliest books recount the life of a teenage boy during the Thatcher years, but the sequence eventually depicts Adrian Mole in middle age. The Queen and I (1992), another popular work which was well received, was an outlet for her republican sentiments, although the Royal Family is still rendered with sympathy. Both the earliest Adrian Mole book and The Queen and I were adapted for the stage and enjoyed successful runs in London’s West End.

She was an honorary MA of Leicester University, and in 2008 she was made a Distinguished Honorary Fellow, 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 most recent novel, The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, was published in 2012 by Michael Joseph and was a giant success, selling over half a million copies to date in the UK alone.

Townsend was poor until well into her thirties, and used her experiences of hardship in her work. In her later years she suffered ill-health, in part related to the diabetes she developed in the mid-1980s, and in her last years endured serious sight and mobility problems. She died at her home on 10 April 2014 following a stroke at 68.

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