On Sue Townsend

Yesterday, novelist and playwright Sue Townsend died at the age of 68. Way, way back in the mid-80s, Some friends introduced me to her books and her most celebrated character, Midlands diarist Adrian Mole. I related to him because he was about my age and we both thought of ourselves as intellectuals who were not very clever.

I’m saddened that we’ll likely never hear from Adrian Mole again. In the most recent novel, he was recovering from prostate cancer and while there was news that she was working on a new book, I don’t know how much of it she completed due to her failing health.

Despite the numerous British references I didn’t get like the launch of Channel 4, Malcolm Muggeridge, giros, anybody in Margaret Thatcher’s government who wasn’t Margaret Thatcher, Noddy, I loved the books and re-read them several times and with each re-read I’d find things I didn’t appreciate the first time. It was her writing that made me want to pick up a pen because it showed me that there’s really nothing to be afraid of. You can write whatever you like and nobody needs to tell you otherwise. She didn’t come from a particularly rich or literary family and dropped out of school at 15. And yet, here she was, with a huge body of work that would make a lot of people from far more privileged backgrounds envious.

I feel like picking up a pen again.



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