|Born||Susan Lillian Townsend
2 April 1946
Leicester, United Kingdom
|Occupation||Novelist, playwright, screenwriter, columnist|
|Genres||Drama, Fiction, Screenplay|
|Notable work(s)||Adrian Mole books|
|Children||Sean, Daniel, Victoria, Elizabeth|
Susan Lillian "Sue" Townsend, FRSL (born 2 April 1946) is an English novelist and playwright, best known as the author of the Adrian Mole books. Although her writing primarily combines comedy with social commentary, she has also written purely dramatic works.
Townsend was born in Leicester and went to Glen Hills Primary School, where the school secretary was Mrs Claricotes, a name she used for the school secretary in the Adrian Mole books. Her father was a postman and she was the eldest of five sisters. After failing her 11-plus exam, Townsend then went to the secondary modern South Wigston High School. She left school at the age of 15 and worked in a variety of jobs including factory worker and shop assistant. She married a sheet-metal worker and had three children under five by the time she was 22. She joined a writers' group at the Phoenix Theatre, Leicester in her thirties. She has four children: Sean, Daniel, Victoria and Elizabeth.
At the time of writing the first Adrian Mole book, Townsend was living on the Saffron Lane Estate, a stone's-throw away from the house in which playwright Joe Orton was brought up. The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole was reputedly based on her children's experiences at Mary Linwood Comprehensive School in Leicester. Several of the teachers who appear in the book (such as Ms Fossington-Gore and Mr Dock) are based on actual staff who worked at the school in the early 1980s. When the book was televised, it was mostly filmed at a different school nearby. Mary Linwood Comprehensive was closed in 1997. the first two published stories appeared in a short-lived arts journal entitled simply magazine, the editing and production of which Townsend was involved, featuring the character then still called Nigel Mole.
The first two books in the series 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 Britain during the Thatcher period.
Townsend has suffered from diabetes for many years, as a result of which she was registered blind in 2001, and has woven this theme into her work.
On 25 February 2009, Leicester City Council announced that Townsend would be given the Honorary Freedom of Leicester (where she still lives) alongside singer Engelbert Humperdinck and retired professional footballer Alan Birchenall.
In September 2009, she received a kidney from her son Sean after a 2-year wait for a donor. Surgery was carried out at Leicester General Hospital and Townsend spoke to reporters about the work of the UK National Kidney Federation. Her son who fears Adrian Mole is partly based on him is said to be "very proprietorial about what he still calls his kidney".
|1981||Thames Television Playwright Award for Womberang|
|2007||Two honorary doctorates, one from the University of Leicester and one from Loughborough University|
|2007||James Joyce Award of the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin|
|2012||Specsavers National Book Awards, Audiobook of the Year, The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year narrated by Caroline Quentin|
Adrian Mole series
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ (1982), her best selling book, and the best-selling new British fiction book of the 1980s.
- The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1984)
- The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole (1989)
- Adrian Mole From Minor to Major (1991) is an omnibus of the first three, and includes as a bonus the specially written Adrian Mole and the Small Amphibians.
- 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)
- Rebuilding Coventry (1988)
- The Queen and I (1992), a story about the British royal family living a "normal" life on an urban housing estate following a republican revolution.
- Ghost Children (1997), a novel treating the issues of bereavement, child abuse and women's self-esteem in relation to body image.
- Number Ten (2002)
- Queen Camilla (2006)
- The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year (2012)
- Womberang (Soho Poly – 1979)
- The Ghost of Daniel Lambert (Leicester Haymarket Theatre – 1981) Theatre closed in January 2007
- Dayroom (Croydon Warehouse Theatre – 1981)
- Captain Christmas and the Evil Adults (Phoenix Arts Theatre – 1982) now known as the Phoenix Arts Centre
- Bazaar and Rummage (Royal Court Theatre – 1982)
- Groping for Words (Croydon Warehouse – 1983)
- The Great Celestial Cow (Royal Court Theatre and tour – 1984)
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 133⁄4-The Play (Leicester Phoenix – 1984) now known as Phoenix Arts Centre
- Disneyland it Ain't (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs – 1989)
- Ten Tiny Fingers, Nine Tiny Toes (Library Theatre, Manchester – 1989)
- The Queen and I (Vaudeville Theatre – 1994, toured Australia in the summer of 1996 and was entitled The Royals Down Under)
- Mr Bevan's Dream: Why Britain Needs Its Welfare State (1989)
- The Public Confessions of a Middle-Aged Woman (2001)
- Collier, Kate (18 February 2005). "Leicester's leading ladies". BBC. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "Sky Arts: The Book Show". Skyarts.co.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- White, Lesley (15 October 2006). "Sue Townsend". London: The Times. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "City honours three of its finest 'ambassadors'". Leicester City Council. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2009.
- Adams, Stephen (27 December 2009). "Adrian Mole writer Sue Townsend gets kidney from her son". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
- "Sue Townsend – Woman of the Year Award". BBC. 14 October 2003. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "Women of The Year Lunch and Assembly". womenoftheyear.co.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "Summer 2007 Oration – Sue Townsend". Loughborough University. 20 July 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- Alison Flood (5 December 2012). "EL James comes out on top at National Book awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2012.