March 2, 2016
Author of Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging Louise Rennison dies
by Zeljka Marosevic
The author Louise Rennison has died at the age of 63. Rennison was best known for her Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series written for teenagers, which included the titles Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging and Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas.
Beloved by all who read her, Rennison’s books portrayed British teenage girls who were funny and silly and whose lives reflected those of real girls up and down the country. Writing in The Telegraph Charlotte Runcie remembered:
I devoured the books because they made me laugh, but also because they made me feel as though the horrors of teenage life in Britain were not something unique to me, and that things might turn out okay in the end. This teenage girl who was funny above all else was a role model for any girl who has ever been told by a boy that “girls aren’t funny”.
In The Bookseller Melissa Cox, head of range at Waterstones described Rennison as a pioneer:
Compared to the perfect American teenagers that peopled so much of contemporary teenage fiction back then, Georgia Nicolson, Dave the Laugh and the gang all seemed to me to be supremely real and just like my own friends…The books also taught me that girls were funny, because, pre-internet and social media, you didn’t get a lot of young women quipping, making puns or generally being silly.
Rennison published the first title in the series, Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, in 1999 and went on to write a series of 10 books. The books’ main character Georgia Nicolson was reportedly based on Rennison herself as a teenager and spoke in a delightfully idiosyncratic and incredibly infectious way. As Runcie describes it in The Telegraph, “It was difficult to switch out of it in your own brain after reading.”
As a young teenager I remember first seeing the books in my school library and being shocked and delighted that words like thongs, knickers and snogging had made it onto the front covers of books. But as Rennison herself noted in a piece for The Guardian in 2014, American readers had a slightly tougher time with such words. As Rennison remembers in the piece, the conversation with her American editor went like this:
I should have known they wouldn’t get it. That their “humour” is different. The alarm bells should have been ringing when they bought Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging the book, and the Chief Hamburger said, “Congratulations, Ms Rennison, you are a genius and a very warm person.” (Now that is something I do admire the Americans for, their down-to-earth sincerity…) Where was I? Oh yes, then he said, “But what is “snoggling”?”
I said, “I’ve no idea but I’m willing to give it a go!”
Eventually her American publisher decided to include a handy glossary in the back of the American editions to explain what words like ‘prat’* meant.
In a statement released to The Bookseller, her British publisher HarperCollins wrote:
Nobody wrote for teenagers like she did, she understood them, their lives and their extraordinary and powerful friendships. In life, as in her writing, she brought joy and laughter. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and the readers whose lives she has touched for almost 20 years.
*Rennison’s definition: “Someone who plays air guitar at concerts or puts two legs down one knicker leg”
Zeljka Marosevic is the former managing director of Melville House UK.