Birthday: March 11, 1952
Nationality: American, British
Died At Age: 49
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Douglas Noel Adams
Born Country: England
Born in: Cambridge
Famous as: Writer
Height: 6'5" (196 cm), 6'5" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Jane Belson
father: Christopher Douglas Adams
mother: Janet Adams
siblings: Heather Adams, James Thrift, Jane Thrift, Susan Adams
children: Polly Jane Rocket Adams
Died on: May 11, 2001
place of death: Santa Barbara
City: Cambridge, England
Founder/Co-Founder: The Digital Village
education: 1970 - Brentwood School, Essex, 1974 - St John's College, Cambridge, University of Cambridge
Who was Douglas Adams?
Douglas Adams was an English writer best known for the science fiction series ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’. The series which originated as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a phenomenally successful book series also spawned a television series, stage plays and video games. Intelligent and creative from an early age, he started writing when he was in school. He received much encouragement from his teacher Frank Halford who greatly appreciated the boy’s writing skills. He started writing for his school magazine and had a short story of his published nationally in the boys' comic, ‘The Eagle’ when he was 12. Blessed with a quirky sense of humor, he focused more on comical writing, a genre that would make him famous in the years to come. A good student, he was awarded a scholarship in English at St John's College, Cambridge. He also loved acting, but could not perform on stage because of his clumsiness. So he took to writing comedy sketches for the performing arts society as a college student. Following his graduation he started writing for the radio, and came up with the concept of ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’ as a science-fiction comedy radio series. His other well-known works include ‘Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency’ and ‘The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul’.
Childhood & Early Life
Douglas Noel Adams was born on 11 March 1952, to Janet and Christopher Douglas Adams, in Cambridge, England. He had one sister, Susan. His parents divorced when he was a young boy and he went to live with his mother.
He received his primary education from Primrose Hill Primary School and then moved to Brentwood School. There he attended the prep school from 1959 to 1964, and then the main school until December 1970. He developed an interest in writing during his school days where his skills were recognized by his teacher Frank Halford.
He wrote reports and articles for his school magazine ‘Broadsheet’, and also designed the cover of one of the magazine’s issues. In 1965, he had a letter and short story published nationally in the boys’ comic, ‘The Eagle’.
A good student, he was awarded a scholarship in English at St John's College, Cambridge. Before joining college, he took a year off and worked a string of odd jobs including stints as a porter in the X-Ray department of the Yeovil General Hospital and at chicken sheds cleaner. Then he left England to hitchhike around Europe, and it was during this time that the idea for ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’ came to him. He joined college in 1971 and he graduated in 1974 with a B.A. in English literature.
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He aspired to make it big as a writer for television and radio. He became acquainted with Graham Chapman of the comedy group Monty Python, and the two formed a writing partnership. The collaboration, however, stalled after a few months.
Once again Adams struggled to make ends meet and had to take up a series of odd jobs. He continued writing in his leisure time without much success. Eventually some of his sketches were accepted and in 1977 he co-wrote with Chapman an episode of ‘Doctor on the Go’, a sequel to the ‘Doctor in the House’ television comedy series.
During this time he came up with the idea of a radio series called ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’. The series was based on a concept that had originated in Adams’ mind years ago while he was hitchhiking in Europe. The radio series was first broadcast weekly by BBC Radio 4 in the UK in March and April 1978. It proved to be a big success.
The success of the radio series prompted him to write a series of novels based on the same theme. The first of five novels in ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’ comedy science fiction was published in 1979. It sold 250,000 copies in the first three months. He also wrote a fictional guide book of the same name for hitchhikers.
Four other books in the series, deliberately misnamed ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’ "Trilogy", were published in the years to come: ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’ (1980), ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ (1982), ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish’ (1984) and ‘Mostly Harmless’ (1992). The Hitchhiker novels also spawned a BBC television mini-series broadcast in six parts in 1981.
Douglas Adams also published other novels including ‘Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency’ (1987), a humorous detective novel which was followed by a sequel ‘The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul’ in 1988. Years later, A BBC radio adaptation, ‘The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul’, starring Harry Enfield and Stephen Moore, was broadcast on October 2008.
Douglas Adams is best known as the creator of ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’ series which originated as a BBC radio comedy in 1978 before spawning a series of five highly successful books that sold more than 15 million copies in his lifetime. A television series, several stage plays, comics and a video game also developed from the series.
Awards & Achievements
His novel ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’ peaked at No. 1 on the ‘Sunday Times’ best seller list (1979) and earned him the "Golden Pan" award (From his publishers for reaching the 1,000,000th book sold) in 1984.
Personal Life & Legacy
Douglas Adams had an affair with married novelist Sally Emerson in the early 1980s which ended when Sally returned to her husband.
He then became involved with Jane Belson who he married in 1991. The couple had one daughter.
He died suddenly of a heart attack on 11 May 2001, aged 49.
As a tribute to him, Towel Day is celebrated every year on 25 May by his fans who openly carry a towel with them, as described in his book ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’.