University of Leicester marks Adrian Mole’s 50th Birthday with programme of free events

Posted by pt91 at Mar 23, 2017 12:41 PM |
Day of activities on Sunday 2 April 2017 will culminate with birthday bash and a cake created by Great British Bake Off winner Frances Quinn

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 23 March 2017

Images of new anniversary book covers and of Sue Townsend available at:

Watch Sue Townsend receive her honorary degree from the University of Leicester in 1991:

Watch Sue Townsend speak upon receiving her Distinguished Honorary Fellowship in 2008:

The University of Leicester and publishers Penguin are celebrating Adrian Mole’s 50th Birthday on Sunday 2 April with a day of special events which are free and open to the public.

Everyone is invited to join in the 50th birthday celebrations of local hero Adrian who was created by Leicester writer Sue Townsend. The author introduced readers to Adrian with the publication of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ in 1982. She then achieved worldwide success with her books about the Leicester teenager.

The day will include an illustration workshop for all the family, a chance to hear from friends and collaborators of Sue Townsend, a birthday tea, Adrian Mole goody bag and a cake made by 2013 Great British Bake Off winner Frances Quinn. It will also showcase three Mole-inspired five minute monologues from new writers which have been commissioned by the University’s Centre for New Writing.

People attending can choose from any of the events happening throughout the day, or attend all of them.  The party starts with ‘The Art of Adrian Mole’ a family workshop with artist and original Adrian Mole illustrator Caroline Holden Hotopf at the Attenborough Arts Centre from 10.30am-11.30am. Caroline will discuss her career and collaboration with Sue Townsend, and then offer the audience a chance at designing their own book cover.

From 1.15pm to 2.15pm in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre writer, actor and director Carole Hayman and actor Janette Legge will reflect on Sue Townsend’s contribution to British Theatre and television. The event will be chaired by Leicester author Bali Rai.

‘Reunion: The Birth of Adrian Mole with Colin Broadway, John Tydeman, Geoffrey Strachan and Caroline Holden Hotopf’ will take place in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre from 2.45pm to 3.45pm. Chaired by Radio Leicester’s Bridget Blair, this is a unique opportunity to discover the origins of one of Leicester's most famous sons, as four of the key figures in the Adrian Mole story are reunited.

And finally, Adrian Mole’s 50th Birthday Bash from 4.15pm to 5.45pm will include a birthday tea, Adrian Mole goody bag, and birthday cake baked by Great British Bake Off winner Frances Quinn specially for the occasion. Partygoers can hear from Simon Schatzberger, the original Adrian Mole on stage, and the premiere of three short new monologues specially commissioned for the occasion. There will also be readings by students from local schools, introduced by Bali Rai.

Dr Simon Dixon, Archives and Special Collections Manager at the University of Leicester, said: "Adrian Mole is one of the greatest literary creations of the late 20th century. In celebrating his 50th birthday we will be reflecting on the significant contribution of Sue Townsend to English literature. I'm delighted that so many people who knew and worked closely with Sue will be speaking at the event."

Dr Corinne Fowler, director of The University of Leicester's Centre for New Writing which has commissioned the three five-minute radio plays to be performed at Adrian Mole's birthday bash, said: “The public has great affection for Adrian Mole. This event reclaims his Leicester origins and extends and updates Mole's legacy with the inaugural readings of three new commissioned pieces of work: 'The Age of Convenience' (Maria Taylor), 'Let Them Eat Custard Creams' (Heide Goody and Ian Grant) and 'Rocking On' (Marilyn Ricci).”

This day of celebration supports a whole host of publishing from Penguin to mark the occasion. Michael Joseph has launched Mole Press, their very first poetry list - consisting of just one book: Adrian Mole: The Collected Poems. For the first time the collected poems of misunderstood intellectual and tortured poet Adrian Mole was published in a single volume in time for World Poetry Day. From his timeless first documented poem – ‘The Tap’ - via classic odes to his muse, first and only true love Pandora (I adore ya), we follow Adrian's life in verse form.

All eight diaries are also being re-published to mark the occasion, with new anniversary covers, and the first two books in the series, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, brought together in a single edition for the first time.

Louise Moore, Michael Joseph MD and Sue Townsend’s long-time publisher said: “Sue Townsend was a brilliant, funny woman, who wrote such intricate and hilarious fiction. It’s seen as easy, and I think that’s extraordinary, when it’s so hard to do.

“The fact that we are celebrating Adrian on his 50th birthday, and what would be Sue’s 71st, shows how deeply placed Adrian is in the public consciousness. I couldn’t be prouder that Michael Joseph is launching Mole Press to both celebrate his landmark year and finally put him out of his angst-ridden misery as a published poet.”

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.

Adrian Mole’s 50th Birthday Celebration is on Sunday  2 April 2017 from 10:30am to 5:45pm at the University of Leicester Peter Williams Lecture Theatre and Attenborough Arts Centre.

All events are free, but advanced booking is required. To reserve your place please visit the Adrian Mole's 50th Birthday Celebrations Eventbrite page:

For more information about the events and speakers please visit Adrian Mole's 50th Birthday Bash at:

To find out which three commissioned pieces will be performed at Adrian Mole's birthday party go to

To find out more about The Collected Poems and The Secret Diary & Growing Pains of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ please visit

The University of Leicester will be tweeting about the events from @uniofleicester using the hashtag #AdrianMole


Notes to Editors:

For more information contact Dr Simon Dixon on email: or Katie Morris on

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