I remember reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ and completely empathising what the life of young Adrian. This was despite the fact that I am a girl, and so won’t have experienced teenage life in the same way. But that was the power of Sue Townsend’s writing – her books about a young teenage boy, written in diary form, appealed to audiences of various ages and genders. They’re humorous, heart-warming, and at times cringingly embarrassing, as the self styled intellectual attempts to make his way in a word full of people he deems to be a little beneath him. In Adrian’s later years, his struggles change (with the exception of his failed romantic relationships), and its rare that things ever go 100% right for him, not least his relentless pursuit of childhood sweetheart Pandora Braithwaite.
Townsend, who died last week aged 68, wrote several other books, but it is in Adrian Mole that her legacy will live on. Adrian became such a feature of popular culture, particularly in the 80s and 90s when the books (and accompanying TV series) were at their most popular, that several figures in the public eye have been compared to him – usually political types. John Major, Alan Clark, and even King Edward VI, a British monarch some 400 years ago, who kept a diary of his own turbulent childhood years.
It has emerged that Townsend was writing another manuscript at the time of her death, with the working title Pandora’s Box. It’s pretty likely that this will never make it to print, but the musical production of Adrian Mole is still going ahead – an amazing tribute, as described by the Chief Executive of Leicester’s Curve Theatre Fiona Allen. That, and the enduring popularity of Adrian, is sure to mean she will not soon be forgotten.