Sensational discovery of previously unseen Adrian Mole diary
Teenage intellectual Mole achieved fame in the 1980s for his astute, observational journal cataloguing middle class domestic life in a Leicester household. He has been cited by some critics as “a modern day Pepys.” Several volumes of the diary have been published over the years by the late Sue Townsend. (“I ruthlessly exploited Adrian,” Townsend once told an interviewer. “But he can’t afford to sue me.”)
Earlier this year, builders redeveloping a house in Leicester discovered a notebook underneath the floorboards. Written inside, in faded pencil, were diary entries covering the first three months of 1980.
“Fortunately, one of the builders was a local who had heard stories that the Mole family once lived in that street,” explains Professor Jerry Oaktile, Reader in 20th Century History at the University of Leicester, who compared the handwriting with original Mole manuscripts held in the University Library’s Special Collections. Although the writing was more childish, it was similar enough to support the theory that this might be an early attempt at a diary, predating the first published volume of Mole’s daily journal which begins on 1st January 1981.
Historical records showed that the house where it was discovered had once been owned by the famous diarist’s parents, George and Pauline Mole. Other references within the text corroborated the authorship.“It looks like Adrian Mole began a diary in 1980, gave it up after a few weeks, then began again in 1981,” says Professor Oaktile. “This incomplete work completely changes our understanding of the early life of one of the late 20th century’s most important social commentators.”
Asked whether the new Mole diary could be a hoax or spoof, like the infamous Hitler diaries ‘discovered’ in 1983 and later shown to be fake, the Professor was confident that his authentication was correct. “I would stake my reputation on it,” he announced. “Nobody makes a fool out of me.”
[Update: Professor Oaktile became a lot less certain about all this when he noticed what date this story was posted. And also when it was pointed out to him that his name is an anagram of 'literary joke'.]
What is definitely not a hoax or spoof is the celebration of (the fictional) Adrian Mole’s 50th Birthday at the University of Leicester on Sunday 2nd April. And while the ‘new’ diary may never be published, Adrian Mole fans can content themselves with Adrian Mole: The Collected Poems, a new anthology from Penguin Books’ newest imprint Mole Press (no, really).