Sue Townsend: The Adrian Mole author, 65, relaxes in the living room of her former vicarage in Leicestershire
Sue Townsend, 64, the author of the best-selling Adrian Mole diaries, invites us into the workroom of the former Leicester vicarage she has lived in for thirty years
1 PICK UP A PENGUIN
Thanks to the success of my Adrian Mole diaries I was able to buy this wonderful old house 30 years ago.
I never imagined when I began writing in the early 1960s I’d become professional and my life would be transformed. Coincidentally, my publisher Penguin gave me this set of wooden penguins recently in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the books. I’m a big animal lover – my husband Colin gave me the huge giraffe as they’re my favourite.
2 PRIZED PICTURE
I married two weeks after my 18th birthday, far too young, and by the time I was 23 I was a single mother of three small children, Sean, Daniel and Victoria, living in a prefab house.
This picture shows us in the late 60s.
It’s especially important to me because I once had my handbag stolen on a bus by a woman who had been pleasantly talking to me. I lost all the children’s baby photographs which were in that bag.
3 JOAN OF ART
This painting of Joan of Arc cost me 40 at a chaotic local antique shop in the mid-1980s. I’ve always been interested in her, and I’m still mystified as to how a young peasant girl was able to lead the French armies to victory during the Hundred Years War.
Opinions on Joan vary. Some say she was mad, others that she was a religious maniac, but I think she was a clever, bored girl who simply wanted to get out of her village.
4 THE DARK SIDE
I don’t wear these sunglasses to look cool, I need them to protect my eyes from strong light because I developed diabetic retinopathy 13 years ago.
This stand was a Christmas present a few years ago from my youngest daughter, Elizabeth, who was tired of seeing me for ever stumbling around the house looking for a pair. She bought it on eBay for a few pounds, but it’s worth its weight in gold to me.
5 SOFA SO GOOD
Before my sight failed I could write anywhere: buses, trains, park benches. I once wrote a column for a magazine in a McDonald’s toilet.
Now I sit on this red velvet sofa most days with my feet on a cluttered coffee table dictating my books, sometimes up to 12 hours a day if I have a deadline. I must have spent thousands of hours on it, writing and rewriting. It cost me 600, but for once I didn’t suffer from buyer’s remorse.
6 ROYAL PARDON
After the Adrian Mole books, I’m best known for The Queen And I – my 1992 novel about the Royal Family – and this is the poster for the stage version. It’s set in a post-revolutionary Britain where they are sent to live on a grotty council estate.
I’m a republican and think the Royals should be allowed to fade away gracefully. Oddly, a friend once spotted a copy of the book on Prince Edward’s coffee table in a photograph.
As told to York Membery. The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend is available in hardback, 18.99.