|Adrian Albert Mole|
|Created by||Sue Townsend|
|Occupation||Writer, TV chef, bookshop employee|
|Children||Glenn Bott-Mole (by Sharon Bott)
William (Wole) Mole (by JoJo)
Gracie Mole (by Daisy)
|Relatives||George Albert Mole (father)
Pauline Monica Mole (née Sugden) (mother)
Rosie Germaine Mole (half-sister)
Brett Slater (half-brother)
Edna May Mole (grandmother)
Pete Sugden (uncle)
|Religion||Church of England/Christian, later Atheist|
Adrian Albert Mole is the fictional protagonist in a series of books by English author Sue Townsend. The character first appeared (as Nigel) in a BBC Radio 4 play in 1982. The books are written in the form of a diary, with some additional content such as correspondence. The first two books appealed to many readers as a realistic and humorous treatment of the inner life of an adolescent boy. They also captured something of the zeitgeist of the UK during the Thatcher period.
The series has many themes. The first books concentrate on Adrian's desires and ambitions in life (to marry his teenage sweetheart, publish his poetry and novels, obtain financial security) and his complete failure to achieve them. The series satirises human pretensions, and especially, in the first couple of volumes, teenage pretensions.
The second theme is depiction of the social and political situation in Britain, with particular reference to left-wing politics in the 1980s in the first three books. For example, Mr and Mrs Mole's divorce reflects rising divorce rates in the 1980s, and living together unmarried was becoming a norm. Adrian's mother becomes a staunch feminist and briefly joins the Greenham Common campaigners. Pandora, Adrian's love interest, and her parents are part of an intellectualised and left-wing middle class that attempted to embrace the working class.
Humour arises from the outworking of larger social forces within a very ordinary household in a very ordinary part of Middle England.
The three latest books move in slightly new directions, showing Adrian as an adult in different environments. They are more focused on political satire, mainly examining New Labour, and in Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Iraq war. The intervening book, Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years, mixes these themes, with events such as the Gulf War seen from Adrian's naive and frustrated point of view, as well as depictions of his experiences of unemployment and public spending cutbacks, both major political issues at the time. In dealing with political events, a constant plot device is that Adrian makes confident predictions and statements that are known to be wrong by the reader, ranging from belief in the Hitler Diaries to an Iraqi victory in the Gulf War and Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Early life and young adulthood
Adrian Albert Mole is born in 1967 and grows up with his parents in the city of Leicester; he moves to Ashby-de-la-Zouch in England's East Midlands. Adrian's family are largely unskilled working class/lower middle class. He is an only child until the age of 15, when his half-sister Rosie is born. Adrian is an average boy in many ways, not especially talented, but he does well enough at school and has friends. Deep inside, however, he perceives himself as a thwarted 'Great Writer', and spends years working on his novel, Lo! The Flat Hills of My Homeland, never to be published. Over several books, he develops a script for a white van serial killer comedy programme, which for some reason the BBC is reluctant to produce.
As a young man he moves to London and takes a job in a Soho restaurant catering to media types. London is going through a food-enthusiasm renaissance and offal is all the rage. Adrian is persuaded to feature as a celebrity chef in a television cookery programme called Offally Good!; although he is told the programme is a comedy, he typically fails to realise he is being set up as the stooge, the comic straight man.
Adrian ends up working in an antiquarian bookshop. Having lived in relative poverty for much of his life, and for some time in London in actual squalor, he overextends himself financially, lured by the banks' promises of easy credit, and buys a converted loft apartment.
The family is dysfunctional. Adrian's parents Pauline and George Mole are working class characters with limited scope who drink and smoke a lot. They are both often unemployed, and have separated, divorced and remarried more than once, often as a result of extramarital affairs. In a reversal of a typical teenager-mother relationship, Pauline berates Adrian for keeping his room "like a bloody shrine". They move from Leicester to Ashby-de-la-Zouch with their dog (only ever referred to as "the dog", who is eventually replaced by "the new dog"). Adrian's paternal grandmother Edna May Mole is also prominent in the early diaries.
Adrian's half-sister, Rosie Germaine Mole (after feminist Germaine Greer), grows up to be rebellious and "street-smart", in total contrast to Adrian. Despite opposing personalities, the siblings enjoy a close relationship, and Adrian often feels that she is the only family member who truly understands him. She also relies on him on occasion; when she becomes pregnant as a teenager, Adrian supports her decision to have an abortion.
Pauline first leaves George for their neighbour, Mr. Lucas, an insurance man. George fathers a second son, named Brett, by a lover, Doreen Slater (a.k.a. "Stick Insect"). Brett makes a reappearance in the later books as a successful yet unpleasant businessman who loses his fortune during the Credit Crunch. Doreen is killed off in Prostrate Years. Pauline temporarily marries her much younger lodger Martin Muffet, who eventually leaves her for Adrian's girlfriend Bianca Dartington, giving Adrian and his mother a shared heartbreak. Later, George and Pauline effect a partner swap with Ivan and Tania Braithwaite (parents of Pandora), only to reunite after Ivan's untimely death.
Although the identity of Rosie's father is originally uncertain, in The Prostrate Years Mr Lucas, now wealthy, gets back in touch with Rosie and demands a DNA test on The Jeremy Kyle Show. Adrian tries to talk his mother and Rosie out of informing George or appearing on the show, but they do so; the test proves that Mr Lucas is Rosie's father. As Rosie's relationship with her parents breaks down, she moves in with him and starts calling him "Dad"; she refers to herself as "Rosie Lucas". The show also casts some doubt on the identity of Adrian's father when Pauline states that there is a 'seventy per-cent' chance that George is the father, telling Adrian about a poetry writing maggot farmer she dated before she married George. However Adrian decides not to pursue the issue. He thanks his father after learning that George raised him single-handedly during the first year of his life when Pauline was suffering from postpartum depression.
Adrian's three children
- Glenn Bott-Mole, son of Sharon Bott, whom Adrian fancied at school and had an affair with as a young man. Sharon represents the underclass of British society.
- William Mole, the son of his first wife JoJo, a Nigerian princess. She divorces Adrian and moves back home; eventually William joins her, changing his Christian name to Wole to make it sound more African.
- Gracie Mole, the daughter of his second wife Daisy (née Flowers), a smart, good-looking woman with whom he enjoys great mutual attraction until their marriage breaks down and she runs away with her rich employer.
- Pandora Braithwaite is the love of Adrian's life. She is beautiful and intelligent, and as teenagers they are happy together. In the later books she shuns Adrian in favour of physically and intellectually powerful men, though he remains attached to her. Adrian tends to devote a lot of his diary space to her, describing her current paramour and his flaws, and pining for their lost love. Pandora becomes a rising star in New Labour under Tony Blair, i.e. one of Blair's Babes, until she opposes the Iraq War.
- Bert Baxter, an old-age pensioner whom Adrian cares for from 1981 to 1997. Despite the fact that Baxter is filthy, rude, and a communist, and has a vicious Alsatian named Sabre, Adrian becomes very fond of him. Bert dies in 1997 aged 105, by falling down the stairs, despite having vowed not to die until he had seen the fall of capitalism.
- Nigel Hetherington is Adrian's on-and-off best chum who has a somewhat bohemian lifestyle. He moves to London and comes out as a gay man. In the last novel he is forced to move to his parents' granny flat, having become blind, as Townsend herself did. In the original TV series and in Adrian Mole and the Small Amphibians, his name is given as Nigel Partridge.
- Barry "Baz" Kent is a skinhead who initially bullies Adrian and later becomes a "bad influence" upon him in his teen years. At the age of 16, he renounces racism and becomes strongly anti-racist. Barry has a natural gift for poetry, which Adrian encourages him to develop. He regretted this when Barry becomes not only a successful poet, but the author of a hit novel Dork's Diary which revolved around a loser called "Aiden Vole", a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Adrian Mole books themselves. Barry Kent succeeds on natural talent, which Adrian Mole clearly lacks. Adrian tries to turn his defeat into victory by creating a fictional character, the failed writer "Kent Barry", in a novel that is never published.
- Hamish Mancini is Adrian's American friend and pen-pal. They first met on Adrian's holiday to Loch Lomond, Scotland. In the second book, Hamish runs away from his home to come live with Adrian briefly. In The True Confessions of Adrian Mole, he asks Adrian to explain the British English terms in his diary. He reappears in The Lost Years.
- Sharon Bott is Adrian's second girlfriend and the mother of his first child. She is introduced in Growing Pains as the girl who "will show everything for 50p and a pound of grapes", but Adrian has an unsuccessful date with her set up by Nigel. In True Confessions, Adrian has lost his virginity with Sharon, but it is obvious that neither of them has any other interest in the other beyond sex. Sharon starts putting on weight, and she is referred to as overweight in the later books. After it is proven that Adrian fathered Glenn in Cappuccino Years, Sharon re-enters Adrian's life; they maintain a good relationship as parents of Glenn.
- Bernard Hopkins is a strange, eccentric and frequently drunk man who Adrian calls in (in The Prostrate Years) to look after the bookshop due to the frequent absences of both Mr Carlton-Hayes and himself, due to illness. Adrian notes that Bernard is an expert with antique books but isn't very pleasant to customers, to the point where he has been blacklisted from working at any Waterstones or Borders. He invites himself to Christmas dinner at Adrian's home and refuses to leave until Adrian has recovered from his prostate cancer, taking up permanent residence. Adrian and Bernard become close friends during Bernard's stay at The Piggeries, helping Adrian with household chores and a friendly ear.
The False Ending and Future
Townsend announced at the time of publication that Adrian Mole – The Weapons of Mass Destruction would be the last book of the series due to her poor health. The series is resolved in the following ways:
- Adrian suffers an emotional crisis after the death of Robert Stainforth, his son Glenn's best friend in the Iraq War; he realises that the war, which he had supported passionately, was fought for bogus reasons; and he faces financial ruin, he has only ever had poorly paid employment, such as working as an offal cook in a fashionable London restaurant. He comes to recognise that he has lived in a dream world and is forced to confront reality.
- Adrian's job in the antiquarian bookstore allows him some stability. His employer, the gentle and unbullying Mr. Carlton-Hayes, hints that he wants him to run the shop after he has retired.
- Adrian's financial nadir passes in an unspecified way, and he can get on with his life. (It is left to the reader to decide if he declared bankruptcy or came to a long-term arrangement with his creditors or was rescued by the equity in his Rat Wharf flat; however, it is revealed that he no longer has his car, which was presumably sold to cover some of the debts.)
- Adrian begins a serious relationship (eventually leading to marriage, although the actual wedding is not written about.) with Daisy Flowers, his secret love of most of the book, and fathers a daughter called Gracie. They enjoy a happy, fulfilling relationship.
- His father, who has become wheelchair-bound, his mother and Animal (his real name), who has assisted them in converting two pigsties into living quarters (one of which Adrian, Daisy and Gracie live in at the end of the book) live together in a consensual ménage à trois.
- Pandora continues as an MP (albeit a blackballed one), and says that despite their insurmountable differences, she still likes Adrian very much. After all these years, he is the only person she can talk to freely. In her autobiography Out of the Box, she describes him as her first romantic interest and gives an unflattering, but honest, account of his shortcomings.
- In the last entry, Adrian concludes that keeping a diary is only for unhappy people. Daisy then asks why he is starting one again. Adrian says he wants to start an autobiography but she says that other people will find him uninteresting.
As the diary ends, the whole decades-spanning Mole Saga seems to come to a ragged but hopeful conclusion.
In an interview on Leicester hospital station Radio Fox on 5 June 2008, Townsend said that she was in fact writing a new Mole book entitled The Prostrate Years. Townsend said that the book was likely to be published in Spring 2009. Penguin listed a 'new Adrian Mole' among their highlights for books to be released in 2009. In October 2009 the Leicester Mercury featured an interview with Townsend where she discussed the new Mole book and her (prospective) plans for future works.
Townsend has stated in letters to her fans that she is working on a new Adrian Mole book, due for release in November 2013.
List of books featuring Adrian Mole
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ (1982)
- The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1985)
- The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole (1989)
- Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years (1993)
- Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years (1999)
- Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (2004)
- The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, 1999-2001 (2008)
- Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (2009)
Two overlapping compilations exist. The first two books are repackaged in one volume, and Adrian Mole: The Lost Years includes The True Confessions and The Wilderness Years, as well as a bonus not available separately, "Adrian Mole and the Small Amphibians". Adrian Mole From Minor to Major (i.e. from being a child to the years of the John Major government) is a compilation of the first three books and "Adrian Mole and the Small Amphibians".
The table below details the title of each novel and the time period covered by Mole's entries:
- The character originated in a Thirty-Minute Theatre play on BBC Radio 4 called "The Diary of Nigel Mole, Aged 13¼", broadcast on 2 January 1982, with Nicholas Barnes as Nigel. The first name was changed to Adrian in the subsequent book as the original was thought to be too close to that of the satirical character in children's literature Nigel Molesworth (whom Sue Townsend said she had previously not heard of). The phrase "Adrian's mole" is found in the poem "The Bells of Shandon" by Francis Sylvester Mahony ("Father Prout"), and refers to the Roman emperor Hadrian's tomb (Castel Sant'Angelo).
- The books spawned three TV series. The first, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, was made by Thames Television for the ITV network and broadcast between 16 September and 21 October 1985. It starred Gian Sammarco as Adrian Mole with Julie Walters playing his mother and Lindsey Stagg as Pandora Braithwaite. The sequel, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole was broadcast between 5 January and 9 February 1987 with Lulu replacing Julie Walters as Adrian's mother. Adrian Mole: the Cappuccino Years was broadcast on BBC One between 2 February and 9 March 2001, starring Stephen Mangan as Adrian Mole, Alison Steadman as Pauline Mole and Helen Baxendale as Pandora Braithwaite.
- The character also featured in several radio series, such as Pirate Radio Four in 1985.
- A stage musical was written by Sue Townsend in 1984 of the first book – The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾: The Play with music and lyrics by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley. It starred Simon Schatzberger as Adrian Mole and Sheila Steafel as Pauline Mole. It was first performed at Phoenix Arts, Leicester and went to Wyndham's Theatre, London in December 1984.
- The first two books were adapted into computer adventure games by Level 9 Computing in the 1980s.
- It has become a regular play among the world, e.g., the Roo Theatre in Australia
- A less well-known chapter of Adrian's life was chronicled in a weekly column called Diary of a Provincial Man, which ran in The Guardian from December 1999 to November 2001. This material was published as The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, 1999-2001. Set contemporaneously, as all the diaries are, it fills in two of the gap years between Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years and Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction. Adrian spends this period living on a crime-ridden council estate with his sons, has an on-off romance with a woman named Pamela Pigg, and temporarily works in a lay-by trailer cafe. He befriends yet another pensioner who subsequently dies, and has a brief infatuation with his male therapist (which he insists is wholly spiritual, not homosexual). The series includes comment on the petrol crisis of 2000, the 9/11 attacks and the War on Terrorism. Adrian's illegitimate half-brother Brett Mole, born on 5 August 1982, is reintroduced as a 19-year-old; he is an athletic, popular, confident, promiscuous, super-intelligent Oxford undergraduate, already a published poet and TV documentarian – in short, the person Adrian always wanted to be. Brett's mediocre older sibling soon comes to regard him with envious loathing. In what was apparently supposed to be a retrospectively-written preface to the re-published Diaries, Mole notes their re-publication in novel-form and suggests that Townsend is impersonating him and profiting from his writings. He also claims that his life is still not as happy as he would like, but 'that is another story' – suggesting that there is another diary to come.
- To mark the royal wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Sue Townsend wrote an exclusive Adrian Mole story for the Observer in 2011.
- An obscure chapter of Adrian's life appeared in the Christmas 1994 edition of the Radio Times. Titled "Mole Cooks his Goose" it covered a stay by Adrian and Jojo at his mother's house over Christmas. It has never been republished.
- "Author Sue Townsend's new Adrian Mole book goes on sale". Thisisleicestershire.co.uk. Archived from the original on 10 September 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- Wade, David (31 December 1981). "Radio". The Times. p. 8.
- Sue Townsend (27 January 2000). "Adrian Mole is now aged 32 | Books | The Guardian". London: Books.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
- "Adrian Mole | Books | guardian.co.uk". London: Books.guardian.co.uk. 22 July 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
- "Adrian Mole's royal wedding diary, by Sue Townsend". London: guardian.co.uk. 17 April 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- The Sue Townsend Archive held at the University of Leicester Library
- Official website
- A comprehensive study of the non-dramatic work of Sue Townsend
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ at the Internet Movie Database
- Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years at the Internet Movie Database
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole at the Internet Movie Database (In Development)