The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend
Not so secret now, is it!?

Along with Macbeth and Animal Farm, Sue Townsend’s work was one of the main areas of study during GCSE English classes. For us, at least. That was back circa 1998.

It’s the first book in the Adrian Mole series. The comedic fiction has a gander at the young British lad, who thinks he’s an intellectual. But also worries about normal teenage stuff (like spots). Here we go!

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾

Sue Townsend (1946-2014) was a prolific humourist here in England. Also a journalist, she’s most famous for this series of books.

Although six more titles would follow, it’s this The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ (1982) that sparked it all off. And you could say it’s the most iconic of the series.

The young Adrian is from Leicester in the Midlands and lives in Ashby-de-la-Zouch. From a lower middle class family, he’s an only child.

An aspiring intellectual and writer, he’s growing up in the Thatcher era of English history. He concerns himself with political thoughts, often slightly askew due his naivety in youth.

He’s also convinced he must adopt an avant-garde approach to writing, so in his diaries affects a pretty pompous and OTT tone.

This is all set alongside the usual teenage stuff he worries about. Often involving the spots he gets, which he fusses about incessantly.

Most of the humour in the Adrian Mole books come from his descriptions of his bumbling life. Or overreaching himself intellectually.

He constantly misinterprets important events around him, yet has total conviction he’s correct. There’s a sweet naivety to that. Along with his affable nature.

But he also refers to big events of the day. Such as the Falklands War and Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding (plus Prince William’s birth).

With its accessible (if slightly twee) humour, it’s very much along the lines of mildly tongue-in-cheek British humour. Stuff like Cold Comfort Farm and TV shows such as Keeping Up Appearances match its light wit.

All of which makes the work pretty iconic as part of British culture. It nods to popular icons and happenings in British life.

And as so many folks read the book as a rites of passage type deal at high school, it’s now a rather celebrated part of the British reading canon.

We remember liking the books as a teenager. They’re good fun. For us, the best element is Adrian Mole lampoons the stuffy teenager who thinks he knows best.

Good fun, then! Later works in the series deal with more adult themes, which is where some of the TV adaptions took their things from.

Adrian Mole Adaptations

In 1985, ITV created the first TV adaptation. We’ve never seen that. But there’s one of the episodes above, eh?

Gian Sammarco played Mole. Julie Walters also stars as his mother.

There have also been radio shows and stage adaptations for all this. But the thing we most remember is the 2001 TV series starring Stephen Mangan.

Mangan has since starred in the likes of Green Wing, Episodes (with Matt LeBlanc), Alan Partridge, and various comedy films.

So, yeah. They’re all there on YouTube if you want to watch them illegally. Which is something Adrian Mole would never do.

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