Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams
Born: March 11, 1952; Cambridge, England
Died: May 11, 2001; Santa Barbara, California
long fiction
Mostly Harmless, 1992
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, 1987
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, 1984
Life, the Universe and Everything, 1982
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, 1980
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1979
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, 1988

nonfiction
The Deeper Meaning of Liff: A Dictionary of Things There Aren’t Words for Yet—But There Ought to Be, 1990 (with Lloyd)
The Meaning of Liff, 1983 (with John Lloyd)
Last Chance to See, 1990 (1990)

edited text(s)
The Utterly, Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book, 1986 (1986)

radio plays
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1978-1980
The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts, 1985 (1985)

teleplays
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1981
Doctor Who, 1978-1980
Hyperland, 1990

miscellaneous
The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time, 2002

short fiction
“A Christmas Fairly Story,”, 1986 (with Terry Jones)
“The Private Life of Genghis Khan,”, 1986
“Young Zaphod Plays It Safe,”, 1986

Douglas Noel Adams was born in Cambridge, England, on March 11, 1952, the son of Janet Donovan Adams, a nurse, and Christopher Douglas Adams, a management consultant. His parents divorced when he was five. He grew up in southern England and attended Brentwood School in Essex

Adams entered St. John’s College at Cambridge University, where he earned a B.A. with honors and an M.A. in English. Like his hero John Cleese, a star in Monty Python productions, Adams became a member of the Footlights Revue Club. His first comic sketches were written for this group.

After graduating from Cambridge in 1974, Adams became a free- lance scriptwriter, supplementing his income with other jobs, among them a stint as bodyguard for the royal family of Qatar. Although Adams maintained that the idea for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came to him in 1971, while he was lying drunk under the stars in Innsbruck, Austria, biographers have found that the date was 1973, and the place where inspiration hit was Greece. In any case, it was several more years before a chance meeting with Cleese in a London Underground station resulted in Adams’s getting his chance to write an original radio series. Not only was the Hitchhiker’s plot outline Adams sent to a BBC producer promptly accepted, but Adams was also hired as script editor and occasional script writer for the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first presented in March, 1978, as a twelve-part radio series. After a slow start, it began to accumulate a large, enthusiastic audience. The next year, Adams turned out a novel based on the radio scripts. It was a best-seller. Adams then wrote three more Hitchhiker books, followed in 1987 by a comic mystery, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and its sequel, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. The fifth and final Hitchhiker’s novel, Mostly Harmless, appeared in 1992. to travel for a year with the zoologist Mark Carwardine, studying endangered species. The expedition resulted in a BBC radio series and also in Adams’s book Last Chance to See.

In 1991, Adams married Jane Elizabeth Belson, a British barrister. They had one daughter, Polly Jane Rocket. After 1992, Adams wrote very little, but he lectured frequently and also started a London production company, the Digital Village, which produced sophisticated computer games. However, he was still frustrated because he had failed to have Hitchhiker’s made into a movie. In 1999, he moved to Santa Barbara, California, where he could be closer to the movie executives who made such decisions. On May 11, 2001, while he was exercising, Douglas Adams died suddenly of a heart attack.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy appeared on the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults List in 1980.

As successful works that blended satirical comedy and science fiction, the Hitchhiker’s series had an important influence on later science fiction, films, and television productions.

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