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Adrian Mole [Sue Townsend]

Adrian Albert Mole is the fictional protagonist in a series of books by English author Sue Townsend (1946-2014). The character first appeared (as Nigel) in a BBC Radio 4 play in 1982. The books are written in the form of a diary, with some additional content such as correspondence. The first two books appealed to many readers as a realistic and humorous treatment of the inner life of an adolescent boy. They also captured something of the zeitgeist of Britain during the Thatcher period.

The three latest books move in slightly new directions, showing Adrian as an adult in different environments. They are more focused on political satire, mainly examining New Labour, and in Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Iraq war. The intervening book, Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years, mixes these themes, with events such as the Gulf War seen from Adrian’s naive and frustrated point of view, as well as depictions of his experiences of unemployment and public spending cutbacks, both major political issues at the time.


Adrian Albert Mole was born in 1967 and grew up with his parents in the city of Leicester in England’s East Midlands. Adrian’s family are largely unskilled working class/lower middle classes. He is an only child until the age of 15, when his polar opposite sister Rosie is born. Adrian is an average boy in many ways, not especially popular or sporty, but he does well enough at school and has friends. Deep inside, however, he perceives himself as a thwarted ‘Great Writer’, and spends years working on his novel, Lo! The Flat Hills of My Homeland, never to be published. Over several books, he developed a script for a white van comedy serial killer programme, which for some reason the BBC was reluctant to produce.

As a young man he moves to London and takes a job in a Soho restaurant catering to media types. London is going through a food-enthusiasm renaissance and offal is all the rage. Adrian is persuaded to feature in a television cookery programme called Offally Good!, supposedly to be a celebrity chef; although he is told the programme is a comedy, he typically fails to realise he is being set up as the stooge, the comic straight man.

Adrian ends up working in an antiquarian bookshop. Having lived in relative poverty for much of his life, and for some time in London in actual squalor, he overextends himself financially, lured by the banks’ promises of easy credit, and buys a converted loft apartment.

List of books featuring Adrian Mole

•→ excerpt.pdf

▪  The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ (1982)

▪  The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1985)

▪  The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole (1989)

▪  Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years (1993)

▪  Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years (1999)

▪  Adrian Mole & the Weapons of Mass Destruction (2004)

▪  The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, 1999-2001 (2008)

▪  Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (2009)

Two overlapping compilations exist:
The first two books are repackaged in one volume, and Adrian Mole: The Lost Years includes The True Confessions and The Wilderness Years, as well as a bonus not available separately, «Adrian Mole and the Small Amphibians».
Adrian Mole From Minor to Major (i.e. from being a child to the years of the John Major government) is a compilation of the first three books and «Adrian Mole and the Small Amphibians».

•   Sue Townsend writing new Adrian Mole book when she died . . .

The working title – Pandora’s Box – raises the prospect that Townsend planned for her hero to be romantically reunited with Pandora, object of his affection since schooldays

¤  Adrian’s last entry in “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾”  (he must have reached the age of 15 by then…)

Saturday April 3rd

8 a.m.
Britain is at war with Argentina!!! Radio Four has just announced it. I am overcome with excitement. Half of me thinks it is tragic and the other half of me thinks is dead exciting.
10 a.m.
Woke my father up to tell him Argentina has invaded the Falklands. He shot out of bed because he thought the Falklands lay off the coast of Scotland. When I pointed out that they were eight thousand miles away he got back into bed and pulled the covers over his head.
4 p.m.
I have just had the most humiliating experience of my life. It started when I began to assemble my model aeroplane. I had nearly finished it when I thought I would try an experimental sniff of blue. I put my nose to the undercarriage and sniffed for five seconds, nothing spiritual happened but my nose stick to the plane! My father took me to Casualty to have it removed, how I endured the Laughing and sniggering I don’t know.
The Casualty doctor wrote ‘Glue Sniffer’ on my outpatient’s card.
I rang Pandora; she is coming round alter her viola lesson. Love is the only thing that keeps me sane . . .
•→Musical version of Sue Townsend’s Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 to be staged in fictional character’s city of birth ⇐

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