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Published: Friday April 11, 2014 MYT 8:42:00 AM
Updated: Friday April 11, 2014 MYT 10:40:46 AM

Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies aged 68

The British author responsible for the multi-million selling Adrian Mole series documenting the hum-drum life of an awkward teenager, passed away on Thursday. 

Sue Townsend, the British author responsible for the multi-million selling Adrian Mole series documenting the hum-drum life of an awkward teenager, has died aged 68, her son told the BBC on Friday.

According to the broadcaster, her son Danny Townsend confirmed that the novelist had died at home on Thursday after a short illness.

After writing a series of well-received plays, Sue Townsend was catapulted to mainstream fame when she released The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13  in 1982.

Within three years, the book had sold close to two million copies and was followed in 1984 by The Growing Pains Of Adrian Mole, which helped her to become Britain's top-selling author of the 1980s.

Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, the last of the eight-part series, was released in 2009.

Townsend, who was born in the central England city of Leicester in 1946, contracted TB peritonitis at 23, had a heart attack in her 30s, suffered from Charcot's joint-degenerative arthritis - confining her to a wheelchair - and lost her sight after being diagnosed with diabetes in the 1980s.

She underwent a kidney transplant in 2009, with her eldest son Sean donating one of his organs, and suffered a stroke over Christmas 2012.

Writer and journalist Caitlin Moran was one of many stars who paid tribute on Twitter, writing: "One of the funniest women who ever lived."

Comedy writer Danny Wallace said: "Farewell, brilliant Sue Townsend. Rest in peace, Adrian Mole" while playwright Simon Stephens added: "I met Sue Townsend. Very early in my career. She was much more inspiring than I thought she would be and I thought she would be amazing."

Stand-up comedian Sarah Millican tweeted: "Such sad news about Sue Townsend. Just about to start reading 'The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year'. Will do so now with a heavier heart."

Actor Stephen Mangan said: "Greatly upset to hear that Sue Townsend has died. One of the warmest, funniest and wisest people I ever met" while crime writer Ian Rankin described her death as "a real loss".

The first of the fictionalised diaries follows Mole, said to be modelled on son Sean, as he painfully navigates adolescence.

A working class Leicester teenager with intellectual pretentions, Mole falls hopelessly in love with the middle-class Pandora Braithwaite, but ends up fathering a child with Sharon Bott.

The books are widely recognised as having captured the essence of 1980s Britain under the rule of Margaret Thatcher.

Later books follow him as he climbs the class ladder, running a book shop and overcoming prostate cancer.

The books spawned three TV series in total.

Townsend left school at 15, but remained a voracious reader and wrote in secret for many years while carrying out a series of jobs including factory worker, shop assistant and youth worker on adventure playgrounds.

She married a sheet-metal worker aged 18 and leaves behind four children.

Her last novel The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year was published in 2012.

Tags / Keywords: Sue Townsend, British author, Adrian Mole, obituary

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