|Birth Day:||April 2, 1946|
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She began writing in secret at age 14 and did not find success until the 1980s.
The murder was committed by Joseph Christopher Reynolds (31), convicted at Leicester Assizes for the murder of Janet Warner, and hanged by Albert Pierrepoint on 17 November 1953. It was to be the last execution carried out at Leicester Prison.
She married Keith Townsend, a sheet metal worker on 25 April 1964; the couple had three children under five by the time Townsend was 23 (Sean, Daniel and Victoria). In 1971 the marriage ended and she became a single parent. In this position, Townsend and her children endured considerable hardship. In Mr Bevan's Dream: Why Britain Needs Its Welfare State (1989), a short book in the Counterblasts series, she recounts an experience from when her eldest child was five. Because the Department of Social Security was unable to give her even 50p to tide them over, she was obliged to feed herself and her children on a tin of peas and an Oxo cube as an evening meal. Townsend would collect used Corona bottles, to redeem the 4p return fee by which to feed her children.
Townsend's new partner encouraged her to join a writers' group at the Phoenix Theatre, Leicester, in 1978, when she was in her early thirties. Initially too shy to speak, she did not write anything for six weeks, but was then given a fortnight to write a play. This became the thirty-minute drama Womberang (1979), set in the waiting room of a gynaecology department. At the Phoenix, she became the writer-in-residence.
These first two books were adapted into a television series, broadcast in 1985 and 1987, and a video game.
In 1989 Townsend published Mr Bevan's Dream – Why Britain Needs its Welfare State, one of the series of Counterblast essays written by such authors as Paul Foot, Marina Warner and Fay Weldon which critiqued, either directly or indirectly the social consequences of Thatcherism.
In 1991 Townsend appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. Her chosen book was Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis and her luxury item was a swimming pool of champagne.
The Queen and I (1992) is a novel imagining that the Royal family have been rehoused in a council estate after a Republican revolution, although it turns out to have been merely the monarch's nightmare. Townsend had become a republican while a child. In an interview for The Independent published in September 1992 she related that after finding the idea of God a ridiculous idea, an argument in favour of the British monarchy also collapsed. "I was frightened that people believed in it all, the whole package, and I must be the only one with these feelings. It was a moment of revelation, but at the same time it would have been wicked ever to mention it." In addition, she was "being taught about infinity, which I found mind-boggling. It made me feel we were all tiny, tiny specks: and if I was, then they – the Royal Family – were, too."
The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1984) was reputedly based on her children's experiences at Mary Linwood Comprehensive School in Leicester. Several of the teachers who appear in the book (such as Ms Fossington-Gore and Mr Dock) are based on staff who worked at the school in the early 1980s. When the book was televised, it was mostly filmed at a different school nearby. Mary Linwood Comprehensive was closed in 1997.
Townsend suffered ill health for several years. She was a chain smoker, had tuberculosis (TB), peritonitis at 23 and suffered a heart attack in her 30s. She developed diabetes in the 1980s. It was a condition with which she struggled, believing herself to be the "world's worst diabetic". The condition led to Townsend's being registered blind in 2001, and she wove this theme into her work.
On 25 February 2009, Leicester City Council announced that Townsend would be given the Honorary Freedom of Leicester (where she lived). Townsend became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL) in 1993. Amongst her honours and awards, she received honorary doctorates from the University of Leicester, from Loughborough University and De Montfort University, Leicester.
Townsend, in a 2009 Guardian interview with Alex Clark, described herself as a "passionate socialist" who had no time for New Labour. "I support the memory and the history of the party and I consider that these lot are interlopers", she told Clark. Despite these comments, Townsend said in 1999 that she had only voted Labour once, and in fact her preference was "Communist, Socialist Workers, or a minority party usually." The journalist Christina Patterson observed of Townsend in 2008: "Her heart, it's clear from her books and a few hours in her company, is still with the people she left behind, the people who go largely unchronicled in literature, the people who are still her friends."
After suffering kidney failure, she underwent dialysis and in September 2009 she received a kidney from her elder son Sean, after a two-year wait for a donor. She also had degenerative arthritis, which left her wheelchair-bound. By this time, she was dictating to Sean, who worked as her typist. Surgery was carried out at Leicester General Hospital and Townsend spoke to the BBC about her illness on an appeal for National Kidney Day.
Townsend died at her home on 10 April 2014 following a stroke. Stephen Mangan, who portrayed Adrian Mole in the 2001 television adaptation, stated that he was "greatly upset to hear that Sue Townsend has died. One of the warmest, funniest and wisest people I ever met". Townsend was survived by her husband, four children and ten grandchildren.
Sue's oldest son asked her why their family didn't go to safari parks, a question that inspired the Adrian Mole books.
Currently, Sue Townsend is 74 years, 10 months and 27 days old. Sue Townsend will celebrate 75th birthday on a Friday 2nd of April 2021. Below we countdown to Sue Townsend upcoming birthday.