Sue Townsend

Photo of Sue Townsend
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. Other plays followed, but she became most famous for her series of books about Adrian Mole, which she 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. These were followed by more books in the series, the eighth and final book, Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, published in 2009. Many of the books have been adapted for radio, television and theatre.

Sue Townsend 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 has received many other honours, including the Honorary Freedom of Leicester (2009), from her home town of over 60 years.

Sue Townsend was diagnosed with diabetes in the 1980s and underwent a kidney transplant in 2009. She died in April 2014, and is survived by her husband, four children and several grandchildren.

Author's Comment: It wasn’t in our family’s experience to have anyone go on to further education. My parents and my aunties and uncles all passed what was called the scholarship, but none of them went on to grammar school because they couldn’t afford the uniform. And that was the same reason that was given as to why I didn’t go on. The family tradition was that you left school at the earliest
legal opportunity, and you went to earn money.

Nationality: British

Featured series by Sue Townsend

Adrian Mole - Age 12 & up