Sue Townsend was considered by many to be Leicester’s most famous woman novelist and playwright. Born in Leicester in 1946 she left school at fifteen with no qualifications. She married at eighteen and subsequently had three children, followed by a divorce. Throughout these years she had been secretly writing but it was not until 1978, when she attended a writers’ group at Leicester’s Phoenix Theatre, that she experienced her first writing success. She wrote a play called Womberang which was set in a gynaecological waiting room and which won her a Thames TV award in 1979.
With her career in writing launched she went on to write many plays and became writer in residence at the Phoenix Theatre. At the age of 35 she remarried and her rise to fame came with the publication of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole age 13 ¾, published in 1982. Its sequel was entitled The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole and with six further books in the series published; over eight million copies have been sold. It made her the biggest selling author of the eighties and a multi-millionaire.
Although now registered blind, these days her books are dictated to her son, Sue Townsend has gone on to write many other successful books including The Queen and I and her latest novel, published in 2012, The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year.
Sue Townsend passed away on 10th April 2014.
The Sue Townsend Theatre
The venue where Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend started her literary career has been renamed in her honour. She wrote Womberang, while at the Phoenix Theatre in Leicester, more recently known as Upper Brown Street.
Mrs Townsend's husband, Colin Broadway, said the late author would have been "embarrassed yet privately thrilled" about it being renamed in her honour.
The venue is now run by Leicester College.