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Douglas Adams

douglas adams, douglas adams quotes
Douglas Noel Adams 11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001 was an English author, scriptwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist

Adams is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which originated in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a "trilogy" of five books that sold more than 15 million copies in his lifetime and generated a television series, several stage plays, comics, a computer game, and in 2005 a feature film Adams's contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy's Hall of Fame

Adams also wrote Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency 1987 and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul 1988, and co-wrote The Meaning of Liff 1983, The Deeper Meaning of Liff 1990, Last Chance to See 1990, and three stories for the television series Doctor Who; he also served as script editor for the show's seventeenth season in 1979 A posthumous collection of his works, including an unfinished novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002

Adams was known as an advocate for environmentalism and conservation, as a lover of fast cars, cameras, technological innovation and the Apple Macintosh, and as a "devout atheist"


  • 1 Early life
    • 11 Education
  • 2 Career
    • 21 Writing
      • 211 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
      • 212 Dirk Gently series
      • 213 Doctor Who
    • 22 Music
      • 221 Pink Floyd
      • 222 Procol Harum
    • 23 Computer games and projects
  • 3 Personal beliefs and activism
    • 31 Atheism and views on religion
    • 32 Environmental activism
    • 33 Technology and innovation
  • 4 Personal life
  • 5 Death and legacy
  • 6 Awards and nominations
  • 7 Works
  • 8 Writing credits
  • 9 Notes
  • 10 References
  • 11 Further reading
    • 111 Articles
    • 112 Other
  • 12 External links

Early life

Adams was born on 11 March 1952 to Janet née Donovan; 1927–2016 and Christopher Douglas Adams 1927–1985 in Cambridge, England The following year, Watson and Crick famously first modelled DNA at Cambridge University, leading Adams to later quip he was DNA in Cambridge months earlier The family moved to East London a few months after his birth, where his sister, Susan, was born three years later His parents divorced in 1957; Douglas, Susan, and their mother moved to an RSPCA animal shelter in Brentwood, Essex, run by his maternal grandparents


Adams attended Primrose Hill Primary School in Brentwood At nine, he passed the entrance exam for Brentwood School, an independent school whose alumni include Robin Day, Jack Straw, Noel Edmonds, and David Irving Griff Rhys Jones was a year below him, and he was in the same class as Stuckist artist Charles Thomson He attended the prep school from 1959 to 1964, then the main school until December 1970 His form master, Frank Halford, said of him: "Hundreds of boys have passed through the school but Douglas Adams really stood out from the crowd — literally He was unnecessarily tall and in his short trousers he looked a trifle self-conscious" "The form-master wouldn't say 'Meet under the clock tower,' or 'Meet under the war memorial'," he joked, "but 'Meet under Adams'" Yet it was his ability to write first-class stories that really made him "shine"

Adams was six feet tall 183 m by age 12 and stopped growing at 6 ft 5 in 196 m He became the only student ever to be awarded a ten out of ten by Halford for creative writing, something he remembered for the rest of his life, particularly when facing writer's block

Some of his earliest writing was published at the school, such as a report on its photography club in The Brentwoodian in 1962, or spoof reviews in the school magazine Broadsheet, edited by Paul Neil Milne Johnstone, who later became a character in The Hitchhiker's Guide He also designed the cover of one issue of the Broadsheet, and had a letter and short story published nationally in The Eagle, the boys' comic, in 1965 A poem entitled "A Dissertation on the task of writing a poem on a candle and an account of some of the difficulties thereto pertaining" written by Adams in January 1970, at the age of 17, was discovered by archivist Stacey Harmer in a cupboard at the school in early 2014 In it, Adams rhymes "futile" with "mute, while" and "exhausted" with "of course did" On the strength of a bravura essay on religious poetry that discussed the Beatles and William Blake, he was awarded an Exhibition in English at St John's College, Cambridge, going up in 1971 He wanted to join the Footlights, an invitation-only student comedy club that has acted as a hothouse for comic talent He was not elected immediately as he had hoped, and started to write and perform in revues with Will Adams no relation and Martin Smith, forming a group called "Adams-Smith-Adams", but became a member of the Footlights by 1973 Despite doing very little work—he recalled having completed three essays in three years—he graduated in 1974 with a BA in English literature



After leaving university Adams moved back to London, determined to break into TV and radio as a writer An edited version of the Footlights Revue appeared on BBC2 television in 1974 A version of the Revue performed live in London's West End led to Adams being discovered by Monty Python's Graham Chapman The two formed a brief writing partnership, earning Adams a writing credit in episode 45 of Monty Python for a sketch called "Patient Abuse" He is one of only two people outside the original Python members to get a writing credit the other being Neil Innes The sketch plays on the idea of mind-boggling paper work in an emergency, a joke later incorporated into the Vogons' obsession with paperwork Adams also contributed to a sketch on the album for Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Adams in his first Monty Python appearance, in full surgeon's garb

Adams had two brief appearances in the fourth series of Monty Python's Flying Circus At the beginning of episode 42, "The Light Entertainment War", Adams is in a surgeon's mask as Dr Emile Koning, according to on-screen captions, pulling on gloves, while Michael Palin narrates a sketch that introduces one person after another but never gets started At the beginning of episode 44, "Mr Neutron", Adams is dressed in a pepper-pot outfit and loads a missile onto a cart driven by Terry Jones, who is calling for scrap metal "Any old iron" The two episodes were broadcast in November 1974 Adams and Chapman also attempted non-Python projects, including Out of the Trees

At this point Adams's career stalled; his writing style was unsuited to the then-current style of radio and TV comedy To make ends meet he took a series of odd jobs, including as a hospital porter, barn builder, and chicken shed cleaner He was employed as a bodyguard by a Qatari family, who had made their fortune in oil Anecdotes about that job included that the family had once ordered one of everything from a hotel's menu, tried all the dishes, and sent out for hamburgers Another story had to do with a prostitute sent to the floor Adams was guarding one evening They acknowledged each other as she entered, and an hour later, when she left, she is said to have remarked, "At least you can read while you're on the job"

During this time Adams continued to write and submit sketches, though few were accepted In 1976 his career had a brief improvement when he wrote and performed Unpleasantness at Brodie's Close at the Edinburgh Fringe festival By Christmas work had dried up again, and a depressed Adams moved to live with his mother The lack of writing work hit him hard and low confidence became a feature of Adams's life; "I have terrible periods of lack of confidence I briefly did therapy, but after a while I realised it was like a farmer complaining about the weather You can't fix the weather – you just have to get on with it"

Some of Adams's early radio work included sketches for The Burkiss Way in 1977 and The News Huddlines He also wrote, again with Chapman, 20 February 1977 episode of Doctor on the Go, a sequel to the Doctor in the House television comedy series After the first radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide became successful, Adams was made a BBC radio producer, working on Week Ending and a pantomime called Black Cinderella Two Goes East He left after six months to become the script editor for Doctor Who

In 1979 Adams and John Lloyd wrote scripts for two half-hour episodes of Doctor Snuggles: "The Remarkable Fidgety River" and "The Great Disappearing Mystery" episodes seven and twelve John Lloyd was also co-author of two episodes from the original Hitchhiker radio series "Fit the Fifth" and "Fit the Sixth", also known as "Episode Five" and "Episode Six", as well as The Meaning of Liff and The Deeper Meaning of Liff

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Main article: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was a concept for a science-fiction comedy radio series pitched by Adams and radio producer Simon Brett to BBC Radio 4 in 1977 Adams came up with an outline for a pilot episode, as well as a few other stories reprinted in Neil Gaiman's book Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion that could potentially be used in the series

Towel Day 2005 in Innsbruck, Austria, where Adams first had the idea of The Hitchhiker's Guide In the novels a towel is the most useful thing a space traveller can have The annual Towel Day 25 May was first celebrated in 2001, two weeks after Adams's death

According to Adams, the idea for the title occurred to him while he lay drunk in a field in Innsbruck, Austria, gazing at the stars He was carrying a copy of the Hitch-hiker's Guide to Europe, and it occurred to him that "somebody ought to write a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" He later said that the constant repetition of this anecdote had obliterated his memory of the actual event

Despite the original outline, Adams was said to make up the stories as he wrote He turned to John Lloyd for help with the final two episodes of the first series Lloyd contributed bits from an unpublished science fiction book of his own, called GiGax Very little of Lloyd's material survived in later adaptations of Hitchhiker's, such as the novels and the TV series The TV series was based on the first six radio episodes, and sections contributed by Lloyd were largely re-written

BBC Radio 4 broadcast the first radio series weekly in the UK in March and April 1978 The series was distributed in the United States by National Public Radio Following the success of the first series, another episode was recorded and broadcast, which was commonly known as the Christmas Episode A second series of five episodes was broadcast one per night, during the week of 21–25 January 1980

While working on the radio series and with simultaneous projects such as The Pirate Planet Adams developed problems keeping to writing deadlines that only got worse as he published novels Adams was never a prolific writer and usually had to be forced by others to do any writing This included being locked in a hotel suite with his editor for three weeks to ensure that So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish was completed He was quoted as saying, "I love deadlines I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by" Despite the difficulty with deadlines, Adams wrote five novels in the series, published in 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984, and 1992

The books formed the basis for other adaptations, such as three-part comic book adaptations for each of the first three books, an interactive text-adventure computer game, and a photo-illustrated edition, published in 1994 This latter edition featured a 42 Puzzle designed by Adams, which was later incorporated into paperback covers of the first four Hitchhiker's novels the paperback for the fifth re-used the artwork from the hardback edition

In 1980 Adams also began attempts to turn the first Hitchhiker's novel into a movie, making several trips to Los Angeles, and working with a number of Hollywood studios and potential producers The next year, the radio series became the basis for a BBC television mini-series broadcast in six parts When he died in 2001 in California, he had been trying again to get the movie project started with Disney, which had bought the rights in 1998 The screenplay finally got a posthumous re-write by Karey Kirkpatrick, and the resulting film was released in 2005

Radio producer Dirk Maggs had consulted with Adams, first in 1993, and later in 1997 and 2000 about creating a third radio series, based on the third novel in the Hitchhiker's series They also discussed the possibilities of radio adaptations of the final two novels in the five-book "trilogy" As with the movie, this project was only realised after Adams's death The third series, The Tertiary Phase, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2004 and was subsequently released on audio CD With the aid of a recording of his reading of Life, the Universe and Everything and editing, Adams can be heard playing the part of Agrajag posthumously So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless made up the fourth and fifth radio series, respectively on radio they were titled The Quandary Phase and The Quintessential Phase and these were broadcast in May and June 2005, and also subsequently released on Audio CD The last episode in the last series with a new, "more upbeat" ending concluded with, "The very final episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is affectionately dedicated to its author"

Dirk Gently series

Adams in March 2000

In between Adams's first trip to Madagascar with Mark Carwardine in 1985, and their series of travels that formed the basis for the radio series and non-fiction book Last Chance to See, Adams wrote two other novels with a new cast of characters Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency was first published in 1987, and was described by its author as "a kind of ghost-horror-detective-time-travel-romantic-comedy-epic, mainly concerned with mud, music and quantum mechanics" It was derived from two Doctor Who serials Adams had written

A sequel novel, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, was published a year later This was an entirely original work, Adams's first since So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish After the book tour, Adams set off on his round-the-world excursion which supplied him with the material for Last Chance to See

Doctor Who

Main article: Doctor Who

Adams sent the script for the HHGG pilot radio programme to the Doctor Who production office in 1978, and was commissioned to write The Pirate Planet see below He had also previously attempted to submit a potential movie script, called "Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen", which later became his novel Life, the Universe and Everything which in turn became the third Hitchhiker's Guide radio series Adams then went on to serve as script editor on the show for its seventeenth season in 1979 Altogether, he wrote three Doctor Who serials starring Tom Baker as the Doctor:

  • "The Pirate Planet" the second serial in the "Key to Time" arc, in season 16
  • "City of Death" with producer Graham Williams, from an original storyline by writer David Fisher It was transmitted under the pseudonym "David Agnew"
  • "Shada" only partially filmed; not televised due to industry disputes

The episodes authored by Adams are some of the few that were not novelised as Adams would not allow anyone else to write them, and asked for a higher price than the publishers were willing to pay "Shada" was later adapted as a novel by Gareth Roberts in 2012 and "City of Death" by James Goss in 2015

Adams was also known to allow in-jokes from The Hitchhiker's Guide to appear in the Doctor Who stories he wrote and other stories on which he served as Script Editor Subsequent writers have also inserted Hitchhiker's references, even as recently as 2013 Conversely, at least one reference to Doctor Who was worked into a Hitchhiker's novel In Life, the Universe and Everything, two characters travel in time and land on the pitch at Lord's Cricket Ground The reaction of the radio commentators to their sudden appearance is very similar to the reactions of commentators in a scene in the eighth episode of the 1965–66-story The Daleks' Master Plan, which has the Doctor's TARDIS materialise on the pitch at Lord's

Elements of Shada and City of Death were reused in Adams's later novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, in particular the character of Professor Chronotis Big Finish Productions eventually remade Shada as an audio play starring Paul McGann as the Doctor Accompanied by partially animated illustrations, it was webcast on the BBC website in 2003, and subsequently released as a two-CD set later that year An omnibus edition of this version was broadcast on the digital radio station BBC7 on 10 December 2005

In the Doctor Who 2012 Christmas episode The Snowmen, writer Steven Moffat was inspired by a storyline that Adams pitched called The Doctor Retires

While he was at school, he wrote and performed a play called Doctor Which


Adams played the guitar left-handed and had a collection of twenty-four left-handed guitars when he died having received his first guitar in 1964 He also studied piano in the 1960s with the same teacher as Paul Wickens, the pianist who plays in Paul McCartney's band and composed the music for the 2004–2005 editions of the Hitchhiker's Guide radio series Pink Floyd and Procol Harum had important influence on Adams's work

Pink Floyd

Adams included a reference to Pink Floyd in the original radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which he describes the main characters surveying the landscape of an alien planet while Marvin, their android companion, hums Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" Part 1 This was cut out of the CD version Adams also compared the various noises that the kakapo makes to "Pink Floyd studio out-takes" in his non-fiction book on endangered species, Last Chance to See

Adams's official biography shares its name with the song "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd Adams was friends with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and, on Adams's 42nd birthday, he was invited to make a guest appearance at Pink Floyd's concert of 28 October 1994 at Earls Court in London, playing guitar on the songs "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse" Adams chose the name for Pink Floyd's 1994 album, The Division Bell, by picking the words from the lyrics to one of its tracks, "High Hopes" Gilmour also performed at Adams's memorial service in 2001, and what would have been Adams's 60th birthday party in 2012

Procol Harum

Adams was a friend of Gary Brooker, the lead singer, pianist and songwriter of Procol Harum Adams invited Brooker to one of the many parties that Adams held at his house On one such occasion Gary Brooker performed the full 4 verse version of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" Brooker also performed at Adams's memorial service

Adams appeared on stage with Brooker to perform "In Held 'Twas in I" at Redhill when the band's lyricist Keith Reid was not available On several other occasions he introduced Procol Harum at their gigs

Adams would listen to music while writing, and this would occasionally influence his work On one occasion the title track from the Procol Harum album Grand Hotel was playing when

Suddenly in the middle of the song there was this huge orchestral climax that came out of nowhere and did not seem to be about anything I kept wondering what was this huge thing happening in the background And I eventually thought  it sounds as if there ought to be some sort of floorshow going on Something huge and extraordinary, like, well, like the end of the universe And so that was where the idea for The Restaurant at the End of the Universe came from

— Douglas Adams, Procol Harum at The Barbican

Computer games and projects

Douglas Adams created an interactive fiction version of HHGG with Steve Meretzky from Infocom in 1984 In 1986 he participated in a week-long brainstorming session with the Lucasfilm Games team for the game Labyrinth Later he was also involved in creating Bureaucracy also by Infocom, but not based on any book; Adams wrote it as a parody of events in his own life

Adams was a founder-director and Chief Fantasist of The Digital Village, a digital media and Internet company with which he created Starship Titanic, a Codie Award-winning and BAFTA-nominated adventure game, which was published in 1998 by Simon & Schuster Terry Jones wrote the accompanying book, entitled Douglas Adams Starship Titanic, since Adams was too busy with the computer game to do both In April 1999, Adams initiated the h2g2 collaborative writing project, an experimental attempt at making The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy a reality, and at harnessing the collective brainpower of the internet community It found a new home at BBC Online in 2001

In 1990 Adams wrote and presented a television documentary programme Hyperland which featured Tom Baker as a "software agent" similar to the assistant pictured in Apple's Knowledge Navigator video of future concepts from 1987, and interviews with Ted Nelson, the co-inventor of hypertext and the person who coined the term Although Adams did not invent hypertext, he was an early adopter and advocate of it This was the same year that Tim Berners-Lee used the idea of hypertext in his HTML

Personal beliefs and activism

Atheism and views on religion

Adams described himself as a "radical atheist", adding radical for emphasis so he would not be asked if he meant agnostic He told American Atheists that this made things easier, but most importantly it conveyed the fact that he really meant it "I am convinced that there is not a god," he said He imagined a sentient puddle who wakes up one morning and thinks, "This is an interesting world I find myself in – an interesting hole I find myself in – fits me rather neatly, doesn't it In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" to demonstrate his view that the fine-tuned Universe argument for God was a fallacy

Despite this, he remained fascinated by religion because of its effect on human affairs "I love to keep poking and prodding at it I've thought about it so much over the years that that fascination is bound to spill over into my writing"

The evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins uses Adams's influence throughout to exemplify arguments for non-belief in his 2006 book The God Delusion Dawkins dedicated the book to Adams, whom he jokingly called "possibly only convert" to atheism and wrote on his death that "Science has lost a friend, literature has lost a luminary, the mountain gorilla and the black rhino have lost a gallant defender"

Environmental activism

Adams was also an environmental activist who campaigned on behalf of endangered species This activism included the production of the non-fiction radio series Last Chance to See, in which he and naturalist Mark Carwardine visited rare species such as the kakapo and baiji, and the publication of a tie-in book of the same name In 1992 this was made into a CD-ROM combination of audiobook, e-book and picture slide show

Adams and Mark Carwardine contributed the 'Meeting a Gorilla' passage from Last Chance to See to the book The Great Ape Project This book, edited by Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer, launched a wider-scale project in 1993, which calls for the extension of moral equality to include all great apes, human and non-human

In 1994 he participated in a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro while wearing a rhino suit for the British charity organisation Save the Rhino International Puppeteer William Todd-Jones, who had originally worn the suit in the London Marathon to raise money and bring awareness to the group, also participated in the climb wearing a rhino suit; Adams wore the suit while travelling to the mountain before the climb began About £100,000 was raised through that event, benefiting schools in Kenya and a black rhinoceros preservation programme in Tanzania Adams was also an active supporter of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Since 2003, Save the Rhino has held an annual Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture around the time of his birthday to raise money for environmental campaigns The lectures in the series are:

  • 2003 Richard Dawkins – Queerer than we can suppose: the strangeness of science
  • 2004 Robert Swan – Mission Antarctica
  • 2005 Mark Carwardine – Last Chance to See Just a bit more
  • 2006 Robert Winston – Is the Human an Endangered Species
  • 2007 Richard Leakey – Wildlife Management in East Africa – Is there a future
  • 2008 Steven Pinker – The Stuff of Thought, Language as a Window into Human Nature
  • 2009 Benedict Allen – Unbreakable
  • 2010 Marcus du Sautoy – 42: the answer to life, the universe and prime numbers
  • 2011 Brian Cox – The Universe and Why We Should Explore It
  • 2012 Lecture replaced by "Douglas Adams The Party"
  • 2013 Adam Rutherford – Creation: the origin and the future of life
  • 2014 Roger Highfield and Simon Singh – The Science of Harry Potter and the Mathematics of The Simpsons
  • 2015 Neil Gaiman – Immortality and Douglas Adams
  • 2016 Alice Roberts – Survivors of the Ice Age

Technology and innovation

Adams bought his first word processor in 1982, having considered one as early as 1979 His first purchase was a 'Nexus' In 1983, when he and Jane Belson went out to Los Angeles, he bought a DEC Rainbow Upon their return to England, Adams bought an Apricot, then a BBC Micro and a Tandy 1000 In Last Chance to See Adams mentions his Cambridge Z88, which he had taken to Zaire on a quest to find the northern white rhinoceros

Adams's posthumously published work, The Salmon of Doubt, features multiple articles by him on the subject of technology, including reprints of articles that originally ran in MacUser magazine, and in The Independent on Sunday newspaper In these Adams claims that one of the first computers he ever saw was a Commodore PET, and that he has "adored" his Apple Macintosh "or rather my family of however many Macintoshes it is that I've recklessly accumulated over the years" since he first saw one at Infocom's offices in Boston in 1984

Adams was a Macintosh user from the time they first came out in 1984 until his death in 2001 He was the first person to buy a Mac in Europe the second being Stephen Fry – though some accounts differ on this, saying Fry bought his Mac first Fry claims he was second to Adams Adams was also an "Apple Master", one of several celebrities whom Apple made into spokespeople for its products other Apple Masters included John Cleese and Gregory Hines Adams's contributions included a rock video that he created using the first version of iMovie with footage featuring his daughter Polly The video was available on Adams's Mac homepage Adams installed and started using the first release of Mac OS X in the weeks leading up to his death His very last post to his own forum was in praise of Mac OS X and the possibilities of its Cocoa programming framework He said it was "awesome", which was also the last word he wrote on his site

Adams used e-mail extensively long before it reached popular awareness, using it to correspond with Steve Meretzky during the pair's collaboration on Infocom's version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy While living in New Mexico in 1993 he set up another e-mail address and began posting to his own USENET newsgroup, altfandouglas-adams, and occasionally, when his computer was acting up, to the compsysmac hierarchy Many of his posts are now archived through Google Challenges to the authenticity of his messages later led Adams to set up a message forum on his own website to avoid the issue In 1996, Adams was a keynote speaker at The Microsoft Professional Developers Conference PDC where he described the personal computer as being a modelling device The video of his keynote speech is archived on Channel 9 Adams was also a keynote speaker for the April 2001 Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco, one of the major technical conferences on embedded system engineering In his keynote speech, he shared his vision of technology and how it should contribute in everyday – and every man's – life

Personal life

Adams moved to Upper Street, Islington, in 1981 and to Duncan Terrace, a few minutes' walk away, in the late 1980s

In the early 1980s Adams had an affair with novelist Sally Emerson, who was separated from her husband at that time Adams later dedicated his book Life, the Universe and Everything to Emerson In 1981 Emerson returned to her husband, Peter Stothard, a contemporary of Adams's at Brentwood School, and later editor of The Times Adams was soon introduced by friends to Jane Belson, with whom he later became romantically involved Belson was the "lady barrister" mentioned in the jacket-flap biography printed in his books during the mid-1980s "He lives in Islington with a lady barrister and an Apple Macintosh" The two lived in Los Angeles together during 1983 while Adams worked on an early screenplay adaptation of Hitchhiker's When the deal fell through, they moved back to London, and after several separations "He is currently not certain where he lives, or with whom" and an aborted engagement, they married on 25 November 1991 Adams and Belson had one daughter together, Polly Jane Rocket Adams, born on 22 June 1994, shortly after Adams turned 42 In 1999 the family moved from London to Santa Barbara, California, where they lived until his death Following the funeral, Jane Belson and Polly Adams returned to London Jane died on 7 September 2011 of cancer, aged 59

Death and legacy

Adams's gravestone, Highgate Cemetery, North London

Adams died of a heart attack on 11 May 2001, aged 49, after resting from his regular workout at a private gym in Montecito, California He had unknowingly suffered a gradual narrowing of the coronary arteries, which led at that moment to a myocardial infarction and a fatal cardiac arrhythmia Adams had been due to deliver the commencement address at Harvey Mudd College on 13 May His funeral was held on 16 May in Santa Barbara, California His remains were subsequently cremated and the ashes placed in Highgate Cemetery in north London in June 2002

A memorial service was held on 17 September 2001 at St Martin-in-the-Fields church, Trafalgar Square, London This became the first church service broadcast live on the web by the BBC Video clips of the service are still available on the BBC's website for download

One of his last public appearances was a talk given at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Parrots, the universe and everything, recorded days before his death A full transcript of the talk is available, and the university has made the full video available on YouTube

The Minor Planet Centre space agency named an asteroid 18610 Arthurdent, coincidentally announcing its plan two days before Adams died There is also an asteroid named after Adams himself

In May 2002 The Salmon of Doubt was published, containing many short stories, essays, and letters, as well as eulogies from Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry in the UK edition, Christopher Cerf in the US edition, and Terry Jones in the US paperback edition It also includes eleven chapters of his long-awaited but unfinished novel, The Salmon of Doubt, which was originally intended to become a new Dirk Gently novel, but might have later become the sixth Hitchhiker novel

Other events after Adams's death included a webcast production of Shada, allowing the complete story to be told, radio dramatisations of the final three books in the Hitchhiker's series, and the completion of the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy The film, released in 2005, posthumously credits Adams as a producer, and several art design elements – including a head-shaped planet seen near the end of the film – incorporated Adams's features

A 12-part radio series based on the Dirk Gently novels was announced in 2007, with annual transmissions starting in October

BBC Radio 4 also commissioned a third Dirk Gently radio series based on the incomplete chapters of The Salmon of Doubt, and written by Kim Fuller; but this was dropped in favour of a BBC TV series based on the two completed novels A sixth Hitchhiker novel, And Another Thing, by Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer, was released on 12 October 2009 the 30th anniversary of the first book, published with the full support of Adams's estate A BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime adaptation and an audio book soon followed

On 25 May 2001, two weeks after Adams's death, his fans organised a tribute known as Towel Day, which has been observed every year since then

In 2011, over 3,000 people took part in a public vote to choose the subjects of People's Plaques in Islington; Adams received 489 votes

On 11 March 2013, Adams's 61st birthday was celebrated with an interactive Google Doodle

Awards and nominations

Year Award Work Category Result Reference
1979 Hugo Award The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxyshared with Geoffrey Perkins Best Dramatic Presentation Nominated


  • The Private Life of Genghis Khan 1975, based on a comedy sketch Adams co-wrote with Graham Chapman short story
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 1978 radio series
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 1979 novel
  • Shada 1979–1980, a Doctor Who serial
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe 1980 novel
  • Life, the Universe and Everything 1982 novel
  • The Meaning of Liff 1983 book, with John Lloyd
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish 1984 novel
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 1984, with Steve Meretzky computer game
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts 1985, with Geoffrey Perkins
  • Young Zaphod Plays It Safe short story 1986
  • A Christmas Fairly Story 1986, with Terry Jones, and
  • Supplement to The Meaning of Liff 1986, with John Lloyd and Stephen Fry, both part of
    • The Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book 1986, edited with Peter Fincham
  • Bureaucracy 1987 computer game
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency 1987 novel
  • The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul 1988 novel
  • The Deeper Meaning of Liff 1990, with John Lloyd
  • Last Chance to See 1990, with Mark Carwardine book
  • Mostly Harmless 1992 novel
  • The Illustrated Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 1994
  • Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic 1997, written by Terry Jones, based on an idea by Adams
  • Starship Titanic computer game 1998
  • h2g2 internet project 1999
  • The Internet: The Last Battleground of the 20th century radio series 2000
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Future radio series 2001 final project for BBC Radio 4 before his death
  • Parrots, the universe and everything 2001
  • The Salmon of Doubt 2002, unfinished novel manuscript 11 chapters, short stories, essays, and interviews also available as an audiobook, read by Simon Jones
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 2005 film

Writing credits

Production Notes Broadcaster
Monty Python's Flying Circus
  • "Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Liberal Party" 1974
Out of the Trees
  • Television pilot 1976
Doctor on the Go
  • "For Your Own Good" 1977
Doctor Who

5 episodes 1978-1979, 1983:

  • "The Pirate Planet" 1978
  • "Destiny of the Daleks" 1979 uncredited
  • "City of Death" co-written with Graham Williams, 1979
  • "The Five Doctors" 1983 Shada segments; uncredited
Doctor Snuggles
  • "The Great Disappearing Mystery" 1979
  • "The Remarkable Fidgety River" 1979
Not the Nine O'Clock News
  • Unknown episodes 1979
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • 6 episodes 1981
  • Television documentary 1990


  1. ^ "The Radio Academy Hall of Fame" The Radio Academy Archived from the original on 8 December 2011 Retrieved 8 December 2011 
  2. ^ a b c d Webb 2005b
  3. ^ a b Adams 2002, pp xix
  4. ^ Webb 2005a, p 32
  5. ^ Adams 2002, pp 7
  6. ^ Botti, Nicholas "Interview with Frank Halford" Life, DNA, and H2G2 2009 Web Retrieved 13 March 2012 Click on link at bottom for facsimile page from Daily News article, 7 March 1998
  7. ^ Simpson 2003, pp 9
  8. ^ Flood, Alison March 2014 "Lost poems of Douglas Adams and Griff Rhys Jones found in school cupboard", The Guardian, 19 March 2014 Accessed 2 July 2014
  9. ^ Simpson 2003, pp 30–40
  10. ^ "Terry Jones remembers Douglas Adams, 'the last of the Pythons'" The Times 10 October 2009 
  11. ^ Webb 2005a, p 93
  12. ^ Adams 2002, pp prologue
  13. ^ Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams by M J Simpson, p87
  14. ^ Roberts, Jem The Clue Bible: The Fully Authorised History of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue from Footlights to Mornington Crescent: London, 2009, p164-5
  15. ^ Adams, Douglas 2003 Geoffrey Perkins ed, Additional Material by M J Simpson, ed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts 25th Anniversary ed Pan Books p 10 ISBN 0-330-41957-9 
  16. ^ Webb 2005a, p 120
  17. ^ Felch 2004
  18. ^ Simpson 2003, pp 236
  19. ^ Internet Book List page, with links to all five novels, and reproductions of the 1990s paperback covers that included the 42 Puzzle
  20. ^ The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Internet Movie Database 
  21. ^ Adams, Douglas 2005 Dirk Maggs, dramatisations and editor, ed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Scripts: The Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phases Pan Books xiv ISBN 0-330-43510-8 
  22. ^ Adams, Dirk Maggs, Page 356
  23. ^ Gaiman, Neil 2003 Don't Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Second US ed Titan Books p 169 ISBN 1-84023-742-2 
  24. ^ "A 1990s Doctor Who FAQ" Skepticfilesorg Retrieved 11 March 2013 
  25. ^ Moffat, Steven 24 December 2012 "Doctor Who Christmas special: Steven Moffat, Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman reveal all" Radio Times Retrieved 8 July 2013 
  26. ^ Adams 2002, pp xx
  27. ^ Webb, page 49
  28. ^ a b Mabbett, Andy 2010 Pink Floyd – The Music and the Mystery London: Omnibus Press ISBN 978-1-84938-370-7 
  29. ^ Adams, Douglas 8 February 1996 "Text of one of Douglas Adams's introductions of Procol Harum in concert" Retrieved 21 August 2006 
  30. ^ a b BBC Online no date "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: DNA 1952-2001" Accessed 9 July 2014
  31. ^ Botti, Nicolas 2009 "Life, DNA & h2g2: Douglas Adams's Biography" Accessed 9 July 2014
  32. ^ Internet Movie Database's page for Hyperland
  33. ^ Adams 1998
  34. ^ Silverman, Dave 1998–1999 "Interview: Douglas Adams" American Atheist 37 1 Archived from the original on 8 December 2011 Retrieved 16 August 2009 
  35. ^ Bunce, Kim 5 November 2006 "Observer, ''The God Delusion'', 5 November 2006" The Guardian London Retrieved 1 June 2009 
  36. ^ Dawkins, Richard 13 May 2001 "Lament for Douglas Adams" The Guardian Retrieved 29 December 2012 
  37. ^ Cavalieri, Paola and Peter Singer, editors 1994 The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity US Paperback ed St Martin's Griffin pp 19–23 ISBN 0-312-11818-X  CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  38. ^ "The Ninth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture" Save the Rhino International Retrieved 27 July 2011 
  39. ^ "Douglas Adams The Party" Save the Rhino International Retrieved 11 March 2013 
  40. ^ "Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture 2013" Save the Rhino International Retrieved 15 August 2012 
  41. ^ "Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture 2014" Save the Rhino International Retrieved 15 November 2013 
  42. ^ "Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture 2015" Save the Rhino International Retrieved 30 January 2015 
  43. ^ "Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture 2016" Save the Rhino International Retrieved 7 December 2015 
  44. ^ a b Simpson 2003, pp 184–185
  45. ^ Adams, Douglas and Mark Carwardine 1991 Last Chance to See First US Hardcover ed Harmony Books p 59 ISBN 0-517-58215-5 
  46. ^ Adams, Douglas 2002 The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time First UK hardcover ed Macmillan pp 90–1 ISBN 0-333-76657-1 
  47. ^ "Craig Ferguson 23 February, 2010B Late Late show Stephen Fry PT2" YouTube 21 June 2010 Retrieved 27 July 2011 
  48. ^ "Adams's final post on his forums at" Douglasadamscom Retrieved 1 June 2009 
  49. ^ "Discussions – altfandouglas-adams | Google Groups" Google Retrieved 11 March 2013 
  50. ^ Adams, Douglas 15 May 2001 "PDC 1996 Keynote with Douglas Adams" channel9msdncom Channel 9 Retrieved 22 March 2013 
  51. ^ Cassel, David 15 May 2001 "So long, Douglas Adams, and thanks for all the fun" Salon Salon Media Group Retrieved 10 July 2009 
  52. ^ a b c "Islington People's Plaques" 25 July 2011 Archived from the original on 18 March 2012 Retrieved 13 August 2011 
  53. ^ Bowers, Keith 6 July 2011 "Big Three" SF Weekly Archived from the original on 8 December 2011 Retrieved 8 December 2011 
  54. ^ Webb, Chapter 10
  55. ^ "Obituary & Guest Book Preview for Jane Elizabeth BELSON" The Times 9 September 2011 Archived from the original on 8 December 2011 Retrieved 8 December 2011 
  56. ^ "Jane Belson, Douglas Adams's widow, passed away" h2g2 Retrieved 9 July 2013 
  57. ^ Lewis, Judith; Shulman, Dave 24 May 2001 "Lots of Screamingly Funny Sentences No Fish – page 1" LA Weekly Archived from the original on 24 May 2001 Retrieved 20 August 2009 
  58. ^ Simpson 2003, pp 337–338
  59. ^ Gaiman, 204
  60. ^ "BBC Online – Cult – Hitchhiker's – Douglas Adams – Service of Celebration" BBC 17 September 2001 Retrieved 11 March 2013 
  61. ^ "Parrots, the universe and everything, recorded May 2001" YouTube Retrieved 11 March 2013 
  62. ^ "Transcript of "Parrots, the Universe and Everything"" Navarrojcom Retrieved 27 July 2011 
  63. ^ "New Names of Minor Planets" PDF, Minor Planet Circular, Cambridge, Mass: Minor Planet Center MPC 42677, 9 May 2001, ISSN 0736-6884 
  64. ^ Asteroid named after 'Hitchhiker' humorist: Late British sci-fi author honored after cosmic campaign by Alan Boyle, MSNBC, 25 January 2005
  65. ^ Murray, Charles Shaar 10 May 2002 "The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams" The Independent London Retrieved 2 August 2009 
  66. ^ The Literator 5 January 2002 "Cover Stories: Douglas Adams, Narnia Chronicles, Something like a House" The Independent London Archived from the original on 1 August 2009 Retrieved 2 August 2009 
  67. ^ "Dirk Maggs News and New Projects page" 
  68. ^ Matthew Hemley 5 May 2009 "The Stage / News / Douglas Adams's final Dirk Gently novel to be adapted for Radio 4" The Stage Retrieved 20 August 2009 
  69. ^ "BBC plans Dirk Gently TV series" Chortlecouk 11 October 2009 Retrieved 11 October 2009 
  70. ^ "Don't Panic! Google Doodle Honors Author Douglas Adams" abc News 11 March 2013 Retrieved 11 March 2013 
  71. ^ "Douglas Adams' 61st Birthday" Retrieved 11 March 2013 


  • Adams, Douglas 1998 Is there an Artificial God, speech at Digital Biota 2, Cambridge, England, September 1998
  • Adams, Douglas 2002 The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time London: Macmillan ISBN 0-333-76657-1 
  • Dawkins, Richard 2003 "Eulogy for Douglas Adams," in A devil's chaplain: reflections on hope, lies, science, and love Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Felch, Laura 2004 Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Neil Gaiman, May 2004
  • Ray, Mohit K 2007 Atlantic Companion to Literature in English, Atlantic Publishers and Distributors ISBN 81-269-0832-7
  • Simpson, M J 2003 Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams 1st ed Boston, Mass: Justin, Charles & Co ISBN 1-932112-17-0 
  • Webb, Nick 2005a Wish You Were Here: The Official Biography of Douglas Adams Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-47650-6
  • Webb, Nick 2005b "Adams, Douglas Noël 1952–2001", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, January 2005 Retrieved 25 October 2005

Further reading


  • Herbert, R 1980 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Book Review Library Journal, 10516, 1982
  • Adams, J, & Brown, R 1981 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Book Review School Library Journal, 275, 74
  • Nickerson, S L 1982 The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Book Library Journal, 1074, 476
  • Nickerson, S L 1982 Life, the Universe, and Everything Book Library Journal, 10718, 2007
  • Morner, C 1982 The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Book Review School Library Journal, 288, 87
  • Morner, C 1983 Life, the Universe and Everything Book Review School Library Journal, 296, 93
  • Shorb, B 1985 So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish Book School Library Journal, 316, 90
  • The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul Book 1989 Atlantic 02769077, 2634, 99
  • Hoffert, B, & Quinn, J 1990 Last Chance To See Book Library Journal, 11516, 77
  • Reed, S S, & Cook, I I 1991 Dances with kakapos People, 3519, 79
  • Last Chance to See Book 1991 Science News, 1398, 126
  • Field, M M, & Steinberg, S S 1991 Douglas Adams Publishers Weekly, 2386, 62
  • Dieter, W 1991 Last Chance to See Book Smithsonian, 223, 140
  • Dykhuis, R 1991 Last Chance To See Book Library Journal, 1161, 140
  • Beatty, J 1991 Good Show Book Atlantic 02769077, 2673, 131
  • A guide to the future 1992 Maclean's, 10644, 51
  • Zinsser, J 1993 Audio reviews: Fiction Publishers Weekly, 2409, 24
  • Taylor, B, & Annichiarico, M 1993 Audio reviews Library Journal, 1182, 132
  • Good reads 1995 NetGuide, 24, 109
  • Stone, B 1998 The unsinkable starship Newsweek, 13115, 78
  • Gaslin, G 2001 Galaxy Quest Entertainment Weekly, 599, 79
  • So long, and thanks for all the fish 2001 Economist, 3598222, 79
  • Geier, T, & Raftery, B M 2001 Legacy Entertainment Weekly, 597, 11
  • Passages 2001 Maclean's, 11421, 13
  • Don't panic! Douglas Adams to keynote Embedded show 2001 Embedded Systems Programming, 143, 10
  • Ehrenman, G 2001 World Wide Weird InternetWeek, 862, 15
  • Zaleski, J 2002 The Salmon of Doubt Book Publishers Weekly, 24915, 43
  • Mort, J 2002 The Salmon of Doubt Book Booklist, 9816, 1386
  • Lewis, D L 2002 Last Time Round The Galaxy Quadrant Magazine, 469, 84
  • Burns, A 2002 The Salmon of Doubt Book Library Journal, 12715, 111
  • Burns, A, & Rhodes, B 2002 The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Book Library Journal, 12719, 118
  • Kaveney, R 2002 A cheerful whale TLS, 5173, 23
  • Pearl, N, & Welch, R 2003 The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Book Library Journal, 12811, 124
  • Preying on composite materials 2003 R&D Magazine, 456, 44
  • Webb, N 2003 The Berkeley Hotel hostage Bookseller, 5069, 25
  • The author who toured the universe 2003 Bookseller, 5060, 35
  • Osmond, A 2005 Only human Sight & Sound, 155, 12–15
  • Culture vulture 2005 Times Educational Supplement, 4640, 19
  • Maughan, S 2005 Audio Bestsellers/Fiction Publishers Weekly, 25230, 17
  • Hitchhiker At The Science Museum 2005 In Britain, 1410, 9
  • Rea, A 2005 The Adams asteroids New Scientist, 1852488, 31
  • Most Improbable Adventure 2005 Popular Mechanics, 1825, 32
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: The Tertiary Phase 2005 Publishers Weekly, 25214, 21
  • Bartelt, K R 2005 Wish You Were Here: The Official Biography of Douglas Adams Library Journal, 1304, 86
  • Larsen, D 2005 I was a teenage android New Zealand Listener, 1983390, 37–38
  • Tanner, J C 2005 Simplicity: it's hard Telecom Asia, 166, 6
  • Nielsen Bookscan Charts 2005 Bookseller, 5175, 18–21
  • Buena Vista launches regional site to push Hitchhiker's movie 2005 New Media Age, 9
  • Shynola bring Beckland to life 2005 Creative Review, 253, 24–26
  • Carwardine, M 15 September 2007 The baiji: So long and thanks for all the fish New Scientist pp 50–53
  • Czarniawska, B 2008 Accounting and gender across times and places: An excursion into fiction Accounting, Organizations & Society, 331, 33–47
  • Pope, M 2008 Life, the Universe, Religion and Science Issues, 82, 31–34
  • Bearne, S 2008 BBC builds site to trail Last Chance To See TV series New Media Age, 08
  • Arrow to reissue Adams 2008 Bookseller, 5352, 14
  • Page, B 2008 Colfer is new Hitchhiker Bookseller, 5350, 7
  • I've got a perfect puzzle for you 2009 Bookseller, 5404, 42
  • Mostly Harmless 2009 Bookseller, 5374, 46
  • Penguin and PanMac hitch a ride together 2009 Bookseller, 5373, 6
  • Adams, Douglas Britannica Biographies October 2010;:1
  • Douglas Noël Adams 1952–2001 Hutchinson's Biography Database July 2011;:1
  • My life in books 2011 Times Educational Supplement, 4940, 27


  • Adams's official web site at the Wayback Machine archived 20 July 2011, established by him, and still operated by The Digital Village
  • Douglas Adams at TED
  • Douglas Adams speech at Digital Biota 2 1998 The audio of the speech
  • Guardian Books "Author Page", with profile and links to further articles
  • Works by or about Douglas Adams in libraries WorldCat catalog
  • Douglas Adams & his Computer article about his Mac IIfx
  • BBC2 "Omnibus" tribute to Adams, presented by Kirsty Wark, 4 August 2001
  • Mueller, Rick and Greengrass, Joel 2002 Life, The Universe and Douglas Adams, documentary
  • Simpson, MJ 2001 The Pocket Essential Hitchhiker's Guide ISBN 1-903047-40-4 Updated April 2005 ISBN 1-904048-46-3
  • Special edition of BBC Book Club featuring Douglas Adams, first broadcast 2 January 2000 on BBC Radio 4

External links

Library resources about
Douglas Adams Listen to this article 2 parts · info Part 1 • Part 2 This audio file was created from a revision of the "Douglas Adams" article dated 2006-02-11, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article Audio help More spoken articles
  • Media related to Douglas Adams at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Douglas Adams at Wikiquote
  • Douglas Adams at Find a Grave
  • Douglas Adams at the Internet Movie Database
  • Towel Day, 25 May
Preceded by
Anthony Read
Doctor Who script editor
Succeeded by
Christopher H Bidmead

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