Adrian Mole Author Sue Townsend Dies Aged 68
Sue Townsend, best known for her Adrian Mole series of books, has died at the age of 68.
The writer, who was left blind after suffering from diabetes for many years, died at home on Thursday after suffering a stroke, her publishers Penguin said.
Tom Weldon, chief executive of Penguin Random House UK, said: "Sue Townsend will be remembered as one in a handful of this country's great comic writers.
"We were so proud to be her publishers. She was loved by generations of readers, not only because she made them laugh out loud, but because her view of the world, its inhabitants and their frailties was so generous, life affirming and unique."
Townsend achieved worldwide success with her books about angst-ridden teenager Adrian Mole and his later years.
The eight volumes sold millions of copies around the world.
Adrian believes he is a thwarted "Great Writer", is in love with Pandora Braithwaite and is bullied by Baz.
"Pandora! / I adore ya / I implore ye / Don't ignore me" - one of Adrian's early attempts at verse inspired by his love for Pandora.
He was an only child until his half-sister Rosie is born when he is 15.
While the books were hugely popular with adolescent boys, Townsend said they were actually aimed at their mothers.
Stephen Mangan, who played Adrian Mole in a 2001 television adaptation, tweeted his condolences, saying: "Greatly upset to hear that Sue Townsend has died.
"One of the warmest, funniest and wisest people I ever met."
Actor and author David Walliams tweeted: "Sue Townsend was a comedy genius & wrote some of the funniest books of all time. A lovely lady too."
And comedian Sarah Millican wrote: "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."
Townsend was born in Leicester, and set her most famous work in her home city.
She left school at the age of 15, married at 18 and by 23 was a single parent with three children, a biography from her publisher, Penguin, said.
After writing in secret for 20 years while working as a factory worker, shop assistant and youth worker, she eventually joined a writers' group at the Phoenix Theatre in Leicester when she was in her 30s.
At 35 she won the Thames Playwright Award for her play Womberang and a year later published the first in her series about Adrian Mole, which she had begun writing in 1975 while living in Leicester's Saffron Lane estate.
The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 was published in 1982, followed by The Growing Pains Of Adrian Mole in 1984.
Several of her books were adapted for the stage, while the Mole series was adapted for radio, television and theatre.
Much of Townsend's life was blighted by illness. She had a heart attack in her 30s and suffered from diabetes for many years, leaving her registered blind in 2001 and forced to resort to dictating her work.
In 2009 she had a kidney transplant, which was necessary because of her diabetes. The organ was donated by her son Sean.
She leaves behind her husband, Colin Broadway, and four children.