This month’s ‘Hidden Histories’ blog is all about the life of bestselling author, Douglas Adams. The 11th of March 2021 marks what would have been his 69th birthday and a new TV adaptation of his bestselling book ‘A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ is set to hit screens soon. But who was he? And why did he strike a chord with so many of his readers?
The first time I read one of his books, I was struck by how frankly ‘weird’ some of his writing was. It was unlike much of what I had read before but I loved it! The series was called ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’, which is described by the author on its cover as a "thumping good detective-ghost-horror-whodunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy- epic". True, it is slightly complicated at first but once you get into the series, I can guarantee that it will be one of the most insightful books you’ve come across in a long time. But this got me thinking about the man behind the cover- who he was and how he got the inspiration for one of my favourite books…
Born in Cambridge in 1952, Adams often stood out as he was 6 feet tall by age 12, and stopped growing at 6 feet 5 inches. After graduating, he moved to London and was determined to make a break into the TV-scene. He eventually wrote episodes for ‘Doctor Who’ and then inspiration famously struck for his novel ‘A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ whilst he was out hiking in Austria, gazing at the stars. After he died in 2001 an asteroid ‘25924 Douglasadams’ was named in his memory and his unfinished novel ‘ The Salmon of Doubt’ was published.
On the 25th of May, fans of his work carry a towel with them as described in Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’. This adds to the legacy that he has left behind and shows how popular his work still is. We included him in our ‘Hidden Histories’ series because he was never afraid to poke fun at the absurdity of the place in which he lived- in our ever-changing world, we could all take a leaf out of his book as we learn to deal with the stress in our everyday lives.
“I like the cover," he said. "Don't Panic. It's the first helpful or intelligible thing anyone's said to me all day.”