His habitual indulgence in prophecy occasionally led him astray. They enlisted, however, the occasional assistance of many able men, among them Walter Bagehot, Charles Henry Pearson, afterwards minister of education in Victoria, Sir Robert Giffen, Mr. Asquith, and Mr. Monypenny, the biographer of Lord Beaconsfield. Townsend's journalistic activity extended over a period of exactly sixty years, during which time he must have written close on 10, articles.
Besides his work on the 'Spectator,' for many years he contributed the political article in the 'Economist. Loe Strachey, who had been assistant-editor since , but he continued to contribute to its columns with little abatement of his powers though in diminished volume for another ten years. His last article appeared in the issue of 16 May , and bore the characteristic title 'The Unrest of Asia.
He had removed thither in from the house in Harley Street which he had occupied since He was buried in Little Bookham churchyard. Townsend was married thrice: 1 in , to his cousin. Miss Colchester, who died in the same year; 2 in , to Isabel Collingwood, who died shortly after the birth of a son in ; and 3 shortly after his final return to England, in January , to Ellen Frances, daughter of John Francis Snell of Wentford House, Clare, Suffolk; she survived him with her three children, a son and two daughters.
Townsend wrote Uttle except for the press. But he collaborated with his friend John Langton Sanford [q. Townsend expresses the view that the Indian peoples will almost certainly become Mohammedan, and the general drift of his conclusions is summed up in the sentence 'The fusion of the continents has never occurred, and in the author's best judgment will never occur. Oliphant, whom he attached to the 'Spectator,' and who for some time wrote for it 'A Commentary from an Easy Chair.
Townsend was already working for the Phoenix Theatre when she started reading diaries, letters and journals of well-known writers such as Waugh, Conrad and Woolf. Being "a very nosy person" she was very much interested in the private confessions of other people. When one boring Sunday afternoon her son asked why they never went to safari parks like other families did the idea to write the secret diary of a year old boy was born.
The incident showed her that adults seriously underestimate the intelligence and sensitivity of adolescents. As a result of this sudden insight she planned to write the diary of such a puzzled youth in order to show adults how these youngsters really see the world and the adults who rule it. Adrian Mole was born. A lot of people wonder why a woman would prefer to write the diary of a boy rather than a girl. Townsend explained that she chose a boy as the protagonist of the secret diary because she thinks that, even though boys and girls at that age are rather similar, boys are much more interesting than girls.
In her opinion boys of fourteen are much funnier than girls simply because they have more to hide. By their nature boys are more introverted and hence their secret diaries must contain more shocking and surprising confessions. In an interview in The Observer Townsend gave a second reason why she preferred to write about a boy:. I wanted to illustrate certain points and use him. But then I actually sort of fell for the character.
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The "points" Townsend originally wanted to illustrate were the bad habits and the egoism of men. Describing the life of a young boy growing up, she wanted to expose the rudeness and selfishness which she believes to be characteristic of every man. During the process of writing, however, she fell in love with her character and this newly acquired sympathy considerably reduced her initial pugnacious attitude.
In the conception of her young anti-hero Townsend made use of three models. Her first source of inspiration were her own children, especially her nearly fourteen year old son. Yet, she took care not to make her fictive character a mere reflection of her own boy. Next to the experiences, attitudes and feelings of her own offspring she also drew on her own feelings and experiences as an adolescent. When she had finished the draft of the Secret Diary she showed it to one of the actors of the Phoenix Theatre.
This person was very enthusiastic about it and encouraged Townsend to send the draft to the BBC. Eventually she did and the people at the BBC reacted as eagerly as her friend actor had; they turned it into a radio play series. The radio series became a huge success. De Haagse Post reported:. Van de uitgevers ook. Binnen een week dongen er zeker vijf naar de uitgeversrechten. Het werd uiteindelijk Methuen Nog voordat het boek in de etalage lag was er een tweede druk. This was the beginning of a long success story. Due to the success of the novel a complete lucrative Mole business flooded the market.
A Premature Attempt at the 21st Century Canon
There were Adrian Mole diaries, pencil cases, writing pads, etcetera. Two years after The Secret Diary was launched, it was turned into a play by Townsend herself. Although the play also became very successful the author was not entirely satisfied with it. She regretted that the shades of meaning that were present in the original perspective had been lost in this comedy. Hence the play missed the essential and unique quality the book possessed.
Letters My Mother Never Read | Townsend Press
This book also contained the fictive diary of Margaret Hilda Roberts and diary-like fragments about the life of Susan Lilian Townsend herself, which both had already appeared in instalments in The New Statesman. Adrian Mole is an acne-plagued thirteen year old boy who reports his thoughts and experiences in his secret diary every day.
To Adrian this diary serves as a kind of sanctuary where he almost therapeutically rids himself of anything that is on his mind. Being an adolescent he finds himself confronted with all sorts of problems.
He worries about his parents who drink too much, about his dog that runs away and regularly has to be taken to the vets in order to get stitched up, about his health he is even a hypochondriac , about his spots and lots of other things. Some of the facts Adrian mentions are really sad or even tragic. For instance the fact that his parents split up because his mother has fallen in love with the neighbour, Mr Lucas or "Lucas creep" as Adrian nicknames him or his being brutalized and blackmailed by a vicious fellow pupil, Barry Kent.
But most of the entries abound with humorous details which are often unconsciously put in by the extremely naive schoolboy. A superb instance of such humour caused by ignorance can be found when Adrian reports that:. She sits next to me in Geography. She is all right. Her name is Pandora, but she likes being called "Box". Don't ask me why. I might fall in love with her. Adrian indeed very soon falls in love with Pandora, who belongs to a higher social class.
And this love is reciprocated when Adrian gains the girl's admiration by starting a red-sock-protest in school. While Adrian discovers the joys of love, his parents experience the discomforts of the loss of love. This of course also has its impact on Adrian who regrets to see that his father becomes infatuated with Doreen Slater nicknamed "Stick Insect" because of her thinness while his mother has gone to live in Sheffield with Mr Lucas. On top of that his father is made redundant as an electric radiator salesman which results in serious financial problems for this single-parent family.
Whenever the problems get too bad Adrian goes to his grandmother. She then comforts him and prepares him a good meal so that he temporarily forgets the unpleased situation at home. Adrian and his father even move in with her for a while when Mr Mole is unable to pay the electricity bill. Even though Adrian has a lot of problems of his own he joins a Good Samaritan organization where he is given the task of looking after a dirty revolutionary octogenarian, called Bert Baxter.
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At first Adrian is repulsed by Baxter's filthiness and deadly scared of the man's dog, a fierce-looking Alsatian called Sabre. Nevertheless he soon takes a liking to the old man and his dog. Her niece, Anne, married and then divorced Capt. Mark Phillips. The Queen decided that from then on, anyone someone in her family wanted to marry would be more or less acceptable. The royal family and the public now feel that they've gone too far in the other direction. Brooks-Baker said that Princess Margaret and Group Captain Townsend corresponded from time to time but did not see each other until three years ago, when they met by chance at an official function.
The next year both were at a lunch at Kensington Palace attended by several other people.
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Guests there said the two sat together on a sofa and "chatted like the old friends they were. In later years, Group Captain Townsend had a varied career as a wine buyer, a United Nations adviser and the author of six books. He lived for many years in St. Please upgrade your browser. See next articles. View page in TimesMachine.
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