Leicester Adrian Mole show celebrates book’s 40th birthday


A university is planning to stage an exhibition and a series of events to celebrate the 40th anniversary of 1980s bestseller The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13¾.

The University of Leicester holds the original manuscripts to the novel, which was written by Sue Townsend, who was born in the city.

The events will look at the life, work and enduring literary legacy of Townsend, who died in 2014.

The exhibition will launch on Friday.

Dr Parker will also offer a guided bicycle tour of Leicester, focussing on significant places associated with Townsend on Saturday.

The launch event will see author Bali Rai, associate professor of English Emma Parker and curator Sarah Wood discuss Townsend’s legacy.

Dr Parker described the book as being “cherished as a warm-hearted comic novel about adolescence”.

However, she added Townsend’s writing “deserves greater approbation for its razor-sharp satire of Thatcherism and astute working-class, feminist assessment of the changing landscape of the 1980s”.

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The secret writing of Sue Townsend

  • Townsend was born in Leicester in 1946
  • Despite not learning to read until the age of eight, leaving school at 15 with no qualifications and having three children by the time she was in her mid-20s, she wrote secretly for 20 years
  • After joining a writers’ group at The Phoenix Theatre, Leicester, she won a Thames Television award for her first play, Womberang, and became a professional playwright and novelist
  • First published in 1982, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ established Townsend as one of the country’s most influential writers
  • Twenty million copies of Sue’s books were sold in the 1980s alone and they were translated into 48 languages

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The exhibition will remain in place in the Exhibition Zone of the David Wilson library until 14 January.

A new edition of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ is to be released in October to mark the book’s 40th anniversary, featuring a forward by journalist and writer Caitlin Moran.

Townsend was awarded an honorary degree by the university in 1991 and received the award of Distinguished Honorary Fellow in 2008.

About the author

Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


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