Sue Townsend, author of the Mole series, died yesterday. Though I might not have read any Mole for twenty years, nor read any of Towsend's other books in the same period, I did feel a little tinge of sadness at her passing. While numerous people will no doubt say it and I accept it sounds horribly mushy and predictable, she was responsible for kick-starting a lot of young people's love of reading. For that alone we should all be thankful.
Her politics weren't bad either. A feminist and a supporter of the Labour Party, Townsend was also vociferously anti-monarchist. In a piece she penned for the Guardian a couple of years back, she spoke of her admiration for Thomas Paine and her belief in a British republic:
More than ever I believe in the republican cause. I think that we should feel quite sorry for the royal family. Most of them were born into it, so they can't see how bizarre and strange it is to have these odd, dysfunctional people at the top of the heap in this country. Just today I found a website of the UK's top 20 tourist sites: Windsor Castle is no 17, and no 16 is Windsor Legoland. It's quite easy to dispel all the myths about the monarchy, and that is what Paine did, wittily and in language that everybody could understand. I think I've been slightly braver since I read Rights of Man in holding what are often considered unorthodox views. It taught me the importance of scepticism.Well said, comrade. Now, off to locate that unread copy of The Wilderness Years.