Adrian Mole creator Sue Townsend dies aged 68

Sue Townsend pictured in 1999. Credit: PA

Novelist Sue Townsend, best known as the author of the Adrian Mole series of books, has died, according to a family friend.

The 68-year-old writer died yesterday after a short illness.

Townsend, who was left blind after suffering from diabetes for many years, achieved worldwide success after the publication of her best-known work, The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, in 1982.

The cast if Thames TV dramatisation of Sue Townsends best seller, The secret Diary of Adrian Mole in 1985. Credit: PA

Fellow Leicester author Bali Rai said that Townsend's family had told him of her death.

Mr Rai told The Sun he had spoken with Townsend's son Danny, who said she died at about 9pm yesterday but would not confirm she had died from a stroke.

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Just been informed by her family that my hero, @suetownsends has passed away. Utterly shocked and saddened. An amazing woman is gone.

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@vriyait @suetownsends Thanks Vijay - and she was one of our own, and a unique voice in British Literature. She will be missed.

Stephen Mangan, who played Adrian Mole in a 2001 television adaptation, tweeted his condolences, saying:

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Greatly upset to hear that Sue Townsend has died. One of the warmest, funniest and wisest people I ever met.

Townsend was born in Leicester in 1946, and set her most famous work in her home city.

She left school at the age of 15, married at 18 and by 23 was a single parent with three children, a biography from her publisher, Penguin, said.

Much of Townsend's life was blighted by illness. She had a heart attack in her 30s and suffered from diabetes for many years, leaving her registered blind in 2001 and forced to resort to dictating her work.

Sue Townsend receiving The Frink Award in 2003. Credit: PA

In 2009 she had a kidney transplant, also a complication of her diabetes, which was donated by her son, Sean.

Speaking in 2012 she said:

He felt it more than I did. I'm used to having operations but he'd never been in hospital before. There was never any hesitation, though.

I was thrilled he was going to give me his kidney, but also scared for him and truly appreciated it.

Townsend also wrote a number of other novels, including The Queen And I, as well as further plays and two non-fiction books.

Several of her books were adapted for the stage, while the Mole series were adapted for radio, television and theatre.

She was also an Honorary Doctor of Letters at Loughborough University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Townsend also received a Distinguished Honorary Fellowship from the University of Leicester in 2009.

She leaves behind her husband, Colin Broadway, and four children.