Sue Townsend, the bestselling author of the Adrian Mole series of books, has died after a short illness. She was 68.

Born in Leicester in 1946, Townsend left school at the age of 15, married at 18 and was a single parent with three children by the age of 23.

Having written in secret for many years, she joined a writers' group in her 30s and became a playwright, with her first book, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13¾, published in 1982.

It was followed by The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole in 1984 and six other books in the series, most recently Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years in 2009.

Her other novels included The Queen and I and The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year.

A diabetic for many years, Townsend was registered blind in 2001, received a kidney transplant from her son in 2009 and suffered a stroke in 2012.

She is survived by her husband and four children.