They say these things happen in threes... Sue Townsend, a complete stranger, taught many far too much. She taught me everything about the facts of life that I quickly passed on to school friends at break time. It's quite possible that a ten-year-old girl shouldn't have got her mitts on a copy of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4, but that was the book that was picked out in Easons on O'Connell street on the way to a family holiday in Donegal in the late 80s, and that book became my bible.
Like many this morning, I had Sue Townsend to thank for the premature onset of puberty (and for the introduction to the word "titian"), but I had no idea how hard her life had been. After marrying aged 18, she then found herself a single parent of 3 when she reached 23. She had to undergo a kidney transplant (kindly donated by her eldest son, Sean, who was reputedly her inspiration for Adrian Mole), she became blind in 2001 thanks to her diabetes, and then she suffered a stroke in 2012 which left her wheelchair bound. The "short illness" that ended her life at 68 was another stroke.
She leaves husband Colin Broadway and three other children Daniel, 45, Victoria, 44, Elizabeth, 37.
Twitter has been awash with people paying tribute.
Sue Townsend, thanks for leaving us with all of your wonderful stories. RIP :(((
— Dawn O'Porter (@hotpatooties) April 11, 2014
I once interviewed Sue Townsend. She was *exactly* like I imagined Adrian Mole's author would be when I was kid: very funny, warm and wise.
— Alexis Petridis (@alexispetridis) April 11, 2014
Deeply saddened to hear the hugely talented Sue Townsend has died. My thoughts are with her family. Adrian Mole was a big part of my youth x
— Gok Wan (@therealgokwan) April 11, 2014
Farewell, brilliant Sue Townsend. Rest in peace, Adrian Mole. X
— Danny Wallace (@dannywallace) April 10, 2014
BBC Radio 4 midnight news confirms news of Sue Townsend's death. A real loss.
— Ian Rankin (@Beathhigh) April 10, 2014
— Roisin Ingle (@roisiningle) April 10, 2014
Greatly upset to hear that Sue Townsend has died. One of the warmest, funniest and wisest people I ever met.
— Stephen Mangan (@StephenMangan) April 10, 2014
Sad to hear Sue Townsend has passed away. From a little girl I have been obsessed with the Adrian Mole books and last year read them again x
— kate ford (@kateford76) April 11, 2014
Personally, I would like to thank her for being a pivotal figure in the life of an overly curious 10-year-old. Someone who let you know it was OK to not be popular, to be cripplingly insular, to have bad skin and warring parents, to drunkenly defrost a turkey in the bath, and to be (for all intents and purposes) best mates with a cantankerous old goat by the name of Bert.