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Subject: Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies

Written By: Philip Eno on 04/11/14 at 1:54 am

Novelist Sue Townsend, best known as the author of the successful Adrian Mole series, has died, a friend of her family has told the BBC. Townsend, 68, died at home on Thursday after a short illness. The first of her comic series, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, was published in 1982 and the eighth instalment, Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, was released in 2009. Her other best-selling novels included The Queen and I.

Townsend, who was left blind after suffering from diabetes for many years, achieved worldwide success following the publication of the books about teenager Adrian Mole. The series followed the main character from adolescence under Margaret Thatcher's government, to maturity in Tony Blair's Britain. Townsend said that, in many respects, her hero mirrored her own experience. In March 2013, she told the Oxford Literary Festival that publication of the next Adrian Mole book had been pushed back as a result of a stroke she had suffered. She was diagnosed with diabetes in the 1980s and underwent a kidney transplant in 2009. She had the stroke in December 2012. Comedian and writer Danny Wallace is one of a number of those who have paid tribute to Townsend on Twitter. Wallace told the BBC: "If ever I saw that she was in a town close to me - and I'd never been to book readings or book signings before - but I always made sure I went to hers. "She was incredibly sweet to her younger fans and I've got all these books at home that she had signed and she would say, 'To Daniel, from Sue Townsend aged 43 and three quarters' or '45 and a half'. "So she really understood what people loved about Adrian Mole I think." Actor Stephen Mangan, who played Adrian Mole in a 2001 television adaptation, tweeted: "Greatly upset to hear that Sue Townsend has died. One of the warmest, funniest and wisest people I ever met." Crime writer Ian Rankin described her death as "a real loss".

Townsend was born in Leicester in 1946, and set her most famous work in her home city. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, was followed by The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole in 1984. The two books made her the best-selling novelist of the 1980s and they were followed by others in the Mole series, including The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole. Several of her books were adapted for the stage, while the Mole series was adapted for radio, television and theatre. Townsend was awarded an honorary Masters of Arts from Leicester University and in 2008 was made a Distinguished Honorary Fellow of the university. She was also an Honorary Doctor of Letters at Loughborough University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2009 Townsend was given the Honorary Freedom of Leicester. She said at the time: "I have been a citizen of Leicester for over 62 years, most of my family and friends live here, so I was delighted when I was nominated to receive the freedom of the city." She leaves her husband and four children.

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