Skip to main content
Leicester Special Collections

Sue Townsend Collection

Sue Townsend Collection


Deposited by Sue Townsend

This collection contains a wealth of material documenting Sue Townsend’s entire literary career, from successful early plays such as Womberang (1979) to the most popular 1980s novel ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾, and her more recent novels include Queen Camilla (2006) and ‘The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year (2012).

The literary papers consist of manuscripts, typescripts, notebooks and other materials relating to her books, both published and unpublished. This collection also include Townsend’s personal papers, such as family photographs, letters and ephemera.

Sue Townsend (1946–2014)

Sue Townsend was an English author and playwright. Born in Leicester, she was best known for the series of Adrian Mole diaries. Before creating the character of Adrian Mole, she had been written in secret for many years.

In 1978, she joined a writer’s group at the Phoenix Theatre, Leicester. At the age of 35, Townsend won the Thames Television Playwright Award and began her writing career. Townsend started the first two novels of Adrian Mole Diaries in the 1980s. She later went on to write other stage plays including ‘Bazaar and Rummage’, ‘The Great Celestial Cow’. She also wrote screenplays for television and film.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾

7 October 1982

Published by Methuen

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ is the first book in the Adrian Mole series of comedic fiction. It was written by Sue Townsend, one of the most popular writers in Britain.

The fictional protagonist was originally named Nigel Mole but changed into Adrian Albert Mole before publication. The story background is set in 1981 and 1982. Adrian Mole is a teenager who believes himself to be ‘an intellectual’, and lives with his parents in Leicester. On 1 January 1981, he started to write a diary about his parent’s troubles, the dog, his worries and thoughts. This book provides a real insight into what was important for a teenager boy and his painfully honest diary makes hilarious and compelling reading. Adrian Mole became a vivid and classic character.

This book soon became the bestselling fiction title of the 1980s. It has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, been translated into 30 languages, and spawned 7 sequel Adrian Mole novels. The second book of this series: The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole depicts the social and political situation in Britain, and the last three novels show Adrian as an adult in different environments.

The diaries have also been adapted for the stage, radio and television. The Adrian Mole diaries were as popular as Harry Potter or Twilight for those readers who were born in the 1970s and 1980s.

All of the Adrian Mole Diaries publication date can be found here: The publication date of Adrian Mole Diaries

Tuesday January 1st



These are my New Year’s resolutions:

I will help the blind across the road.

I will hang my trousers up.

I will put the sleeves back on my records.

I will not start smoking

I will stop squeezing my spots.