- True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole, Margaret Hilda Roberts and Robert and Susan Lilian Townsend by Sue Townsend
Methuen, 117 pp, £5.99, August 1989, ISBN 0 413 62450 1
- CounterBlasts No 9: Mr Bevan’s Dream by Sue Townsend
Chatto, 74 pp, £2.99, November 1989, ISBN 0 7011 3468 2
Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13¾ came out at much the same time as John Pocock’s The Diary of a London Schoolboy 1826-30, published by the Camden Society. John Pocock, 12¾, decisively a real person, was a builder’s son who lived on the edge of Kilburn, two miles out of London. In his journal, written on the empty pages of an old bankbook, he notes that on 23 May 1826 he walked to school: ‘Old Monk drinks like a fish.’ At 14 he feels it is ‘high time for me to be learning some trade or profession’, and at 15 he is alone at his father’s deathbed, holding ‘the cold clammy hand’. At 16 he ships for Australia as an apprentice surgeon. His experiences were hard enough. But although his diary was so private that he had to write part of it (particularly when his father was arrested for debt) in cipher, he makes no mention of his adolescent spots, his wet dreams, or the anxieties of measuring his Thing. Adrian Mole’s diary, which does, made an instant appeal to six million readers as being truer to life.