University of Leicester celebrates 40th anniversary of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ 

Sue Townsend views her original manuscripts at David Wilson Library in 2008 (Credit: University of Leicester)

University of Leicester is staging a new exhibition and series of events to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾.

The bestseller written by the late Leicester-born writer, Sue Townsend, has sold more than 10 million copies in the UK alone.

University of Leicester, which holds Sue Townsend’s original manuscripts in the David Wilson library, is celebrating the occasion by holding an exhibition in her honour which will launch on Friday, October 14.

The event will see bestselling author, Bali Rai; Associate Professor of English, Emma Parker; and curator Sarah Wood discuss Sue Townsend’s life, work and enduring literary legacy. More information about the exhibition launch can be found here.

The exhibition will remain in place in the Exhibition Zone of the David Wilson library until Saturday, 14 January.

Dr Emma Parker will also offer a guided bicycle tour of Leicester, focussing on significant places associated with Sue Townsend on Saturday, October 15. More information about this event can be found here.

A special episode of The Reading List podcast, hosted by Dr Parker is available to listen to. In the episode, Dr Parker talks to Sarah Wood, assistant archivist within the University Library.

A new edition of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ is to be released in October to mark the book’s 40th anniversary.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾’s latest edition is set to be published by Penguin Michael Joseph on 13th October. This edition of the book is the first to be published since Sue Townsend’s death in 2014.

It will feature a foreword by journalist and author, Caitlin Moran celebrating the wit and literary talents of Townsend.

Dr Parker is Associate Professor in Postwar and Contemporary Literature at the University of Leicester.

She said: “Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ is cherished as a warm-hearted comic novel about adolescence but her writing deserves greater approbation for its razor-sharp sharp satire of Thatcherism and astute working-class, feminist assessment of the changing landscape of the 1980s.”

Sue Townsend was born in Leicester in 1946. Despite not learning to read until the age of eight, leaving school at fifteen with no qualifications and having three children by the time she was in her mid-twenties, she always found time to read and wrote secretly for twenty years.

After joining a writers’ group at The Phoenix Theatre, Leicester, she won a Thames Television award for her first play, Womberang, and became a professional playwright and novelist.

First published in 1982, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ established Townsend as one of the country’s most treasured and influential writers.

Translated into 48 languages, 20 million copies of Sue’s books were sold in the 1980s alone.

Sue Townsend was awarded an honorary degree by University of Leicester in 1991 and received the award of Distinguished Honorary Fellow in 2008.

Her literary papers have been on long-term loan to the University of Leicester since 2005 and can be accessed by members of the public in the David Wilson Library.