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Is Adrian Mole the finest poet of his generation?

Gian Sammarco as Adrian Mole in the TV adaptation of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole in 1987
Gian Sammarco as Adrian Mole in the TV adaptation of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole in 1985 Credit: Rex

He’s almost 50, but the bard of Ashby-de-la-Zouche has finally cracked the canon – with his ‘Collected Verse’.  About time too

‘Perhaps when I am famous and my diary is discovered people will understand the torment of being a 13¾-year-old undiscovered intellectual,” wrote Adrian Mole back in the Eighties, in the first instalment of a series of candid diaries that have now become popular around the world. Of course, little is known of the current whereabouts of the reclusive author himself, whose writing has only reached a wider audience thanks to the work of his editor, the late Sue Townsend, who made it her life’s mission to bring the complete literary output of Mole to the masses.

Mole’s relationship with Townsend, who died in 2014 at the age of 68, was not without its strains. In a published letter to Mole from his long-term muse and erstwhile lover, the Labour MP and former cabinet minister...

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