Sue Townsend’s best-selling novel, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4, was published 30 years ago which makes Adrian Mole exactly the same age as me. I have read each and every diary of his, and laughed and winced along the way, always thankful I did not have his parents or live in Ashby-de-la-Zouch (not that I’ve ever been there so am open to be persuaded otherwise).
As a failed diarist myself, I am envious of those who have managed this consistent task. How else can memories be preserved so precisely – not just the when and wheres but the feelings and emotions and dreams? Samuel Pepys and Ann Frank’s diaries are at the same time intimately personal and important social commentary. They personalise history.
It’s not just these real-life accounts. Fictional diaries offer another truth of the times in which they were written. Adrian Mole passes through the eighties, nineties and noughties and we hear of his life set against the backdrop of cultural, economic and social changes. He is the ultimate unreliable narrator but we, the reader, can see the reality of this fiction – thanks to Sue Townsend’s great skill as a writer.
Other favourite fictional diaries include: The Diary of a Nobody by George Grosssmith and Weedon Grosssmith, Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, Any Human Heart by William Boyd, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney