Inspirational people surround us at every turn. To celebrate some of the incredible women who continue to motivate me on my writing journey I have decided to post a Monday Muse – a weekly look at the women who are my artistic inspiration.
Last week I honoured writing tutor and author, Sue Johnson. You can read that post HERE. Today I’m devoting the Monday Muse to a lady who delivered fun and laughter to every kid of the 80s and who sadly passed away two years ago; author, Sue Townsend.
Sue was born in Leicester in 1946, left school when she was 15 and was married by 18. She was a single mum with three children by the time she turned 23. Her writing remained a secret for many years until she joined a writing group in Leicester.
At the age of 35, she won the Thames Playwright Award and then went on to publish the first book in a new series featuring a young teenage boy. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ was an instant hit. (I still have my original copy from 1982!). This incredible book, along with the sequel, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, made Sue the best-selling novelist of the 80s. She went on to write a further six books in the series. It was reported that she was working on a new book, Pandora’s Box when she passed away.
I have fond memories of reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and watching the spin-off television show that aired in September 1985.
Even at the tender age of ten years old I understood a fantastic book when I read it. Sue was able to capture every detail of teenage life, incorporating many life events in her novels including Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s Wedding and the Falklands War.
Interestingly, the humour she shared with her readers masked her ongoing struggles with ill health and depression. She was reported saying:
“I felt people were disappointed when they met me. They wanted someone like Barbara Taylor Bradford in furs.”
It’s hard to imagine that such a well-known and respected author such as Sue Townsend could be unhappy, but despite her huge success, it appears that her depression affected her quite significantly, and she struggled to cope with her fame.
As writers’, we all suffer from self-doubt occasionally but dealing with depression can manifest those feelings tenfold. I understand all too well how this disease can harm, and I wrote an emotional post about it recently – you can read that here. Not only did Sue have to deal with mental health issues she was also blighted by a heart attack, diabetes, going blind, neuropathy of her limbs leaving her wheel-chair bound, and a stroke.
To know that she was still writing up to her death is hugely motivating for us all. She never gave up, refused to give in, and I, for one, will remember her beautiful stories forever.
Share which author has inspired you in the comments below.