Douglas Adams

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Douglas Adams was the writer of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, among other things. Not only did he write, though. He climbed the highest mountain in Africa in a rhino suit, decided that the meaning of life is 42, played guitar with Pink Floyd, and avoided deadlines. This research paper is about him.

Who, exactly, is he?

Douglas Adams wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the rest of the “trilogy” (there were five books). He also wrote Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, Last Chance to See, The Meaning of Liff, and The Deeper Meaning of Liff. Descriptions of these books that you most likely have never heard of are later in this report. He also started the website, and created the game Starship Titanic.

Life, don’t talk to me about life!

Douglas was born in Cambridge on March 11, 1952, about nine months before Watson and Crick discovered DNA. Adams’ initials were DNA, and he had a few jokes about it. He was educated at Brentwood School in Essex, an all boys boarding school. As a kid, he was described as “tall, shy, and unathletic.”(Morrison). He really was tall. He was 6ft tall by age 12, and stopped growing at 6’5. As a kid, he was recognised as highly intelligent. He liked both science and writing. He went to St Johns College at Cambridge and got a BA and MA in English literature. Unfortunately, he died on May 11, 2001 from cardiac arrest at age 49. He was at the Platinum Gym, and fans would be pleased to know that he was holding a towel. Of course, many people miss him. His daughter Polly’s friend Tom Ogle said: “He had great farts.” I suppose they would be described as Affcots.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a really awesome book about a strangely normal guy from Islington who has absolutely no idea that his planet is about to be blown up to make way for a hyperspace bypass and that his friend Ford Prefect is really from somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Of course, his friend tells him about this and manages to get them off the planet by hitching a ride from the cooks on the ship that is about to destroy the Earth. The rest of the story is about all that happens after that, and involves the number 42. You should read it some time.

Various Manifestations of the Hitchhiker’s Guide

First, it was a radio programme on BBC’s Radio4. It started in 1978. It later became a book, a TV series, a comic book, a game, a website, various plays, and finally a movie.

Odd References

The Guide gets mentioned a lot in unexpected places. There is a Babel Fish translation service that is named after a translating fish from Hitchhiker’s. Also, if you Google “answer to life, the universe, and everything=” it comes up with 42. Radiohead even wrote a song about Marvin, the depressed robot in the story. These are only a few places it has been mentioned. I would tell you more, but you might get bored.

Dirk Gently

The Dirk Gently books are a bit less popular than the Guide. They are about a bizarre holistic detective who is quite weird, and who some people have thought to be physic, but really just has good guesses. Since he is holistic, he believes in “the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.”
Sometimes, this means going to the Bahamas to help find an old lady’s cat when the cat isn’t anywhere near the Bahamas.

Other Books

The Meaning of Liff
The Meaning of Liff was a book that Douglas Adams wrote with John Lloyd. It was described as “A dictionary of things that there aren’t any words for yet.” All the words are actually place names. An example of a word from Liff:

The dehydrated felt-tip pen attached by a string to the 'Don't Forget' board in the kitchen which has never worked in living memory but which no one can be bothered to throw away

Last Chance to See

Last Chance to See was written by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine. It was about them going on various excursions to Madagascar in search for endangered species. Douglas liked animals a lot, and had said that if he wasn’t a writer, he would be a zoologist. Last Chance to See was published in 1990.
Avoiding Deadlines
Douglas wasn’t so good with deadlines. In fact, he said “I love deadlines, I love the whooshing noise they make as they fly by.” He was actually locked in his hotel with his editor to ensure the completion of So Long and Thanks for All the Fish. Influences

For the number 42: A lot of people thought that 42 must have some weird meaning, but it doesn’t. When asked, Adams said:”The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base 13, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into my garden, and thought '42 will do’. I typed it out. End of story.”

For towels: He came up with the towel joke when on holiday in Greece. Every day, he lost his towel on the beach, and it could only be found after extensive searching. So, he decided that a person who really has their life in order (a hoopy frood) would know where their towel is. Because of this, Towel Day is celebrated on May 25 every year in honour of Douglas.

For Guide: He claimed to get the idea while hitchhiking through Europe, but actually got it while in Greece. Most people refuse to believe the latter, but I thought you aught to know.
H2G2 is a website formed by Adams to be an Earth version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. H2G2 is a shortening of that long name. The website is owned by BBC. Everyone who joins is a researcher, and they all have different researcher numbers. These groups of numbers always equal 42 when played with a bit. For instance, my number is 11583077. So, mine would be 1+1+5*8+3*0*7*7=42 or (1-1)+5+(8*3)-(0!)+7+7=42. These are also called 42isms. There are huge amounts of entries in the Guide, and some are quite interesting.


Douglas Adams was a very tall, funny person. He wrote many good books, and did many cool things.

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