Sue Townsend (1946-2014)
Born in Leicester in 1946, Sue Townsend is the creator of the bestselling diarist, Adrian Mole. Having left school at fifteen, she became employed in a variety of jobs, including petrol pump attendant and shop assistant. She married at eighteen and had her first child a year later. Following the birth of two more children, she began working on an adventure playground situated on the Leicester estate on which her literary hero, Joe Orton, grew up.
In 1978 her second husband pushed her into joining a writer's group at the Phoenix Arts Centre in Leicester after she admitted that she had been writing in secret for most of her adult life. This writing outlet led her to write her first play Womberang for which she won a Thames Television Bursary as Writer in Residence.
Having launched her professional writing career, she went on to write a number of successful plays, including Bazaar and Rummage (1982) and The Great Celestial Cow (1984), both of which were performed at the Royal Court Theatre. However, she is perhaps best known for the Adrian Mole diaries. The first of these, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 (1982) and its sequel, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1984) made her the bestselling author of the 1980s.
They were followed by several more titles in the Adrian Mole series, which in total have sold over eight million copies and have been adapted for radio, television and theatre. Other bestselling works include The Queen and I (1992), Number 10 (2002), Queen Camilla (2006) and The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year (2012). In 1991 she was awarded an Honorary MA by the University of Leicester.
Sue Townsend kindly deposited her papers with the Special Collections in the University Library in 2005, and in 2008 she became a Distinguished Honorary Fellow, the highest honour that the University can bestow. She died at her home in Leicester on 10 April 2014.