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Tymon Smith

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Footnotes: Douglas Adams

One of the 20th century’s most beloved and bestselling authors should have celebrated his 60th birthday yesterday. Unfortunately, Douglas Noel Adams died of a heart attack in 2001, but his hugely successful series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the cult it spawned, live on.

The series began as a radio comedy for the BBC in 1978 before Adams turned it into a “trilogy” – of five books.

Unnaturally tall and with an early gift for writing, Adams spent several years after university struggling to break into the world of television and radio before he and producer Simon Brett pitched their idea for a comedy sci-fi series to the BBC in 1977.

Aside from this series of books, Adams also wrote two books featuring private detective Dirk Gently – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (the novels were recently adapted for television by the BBC), as well as several books about his passion for travelling and preserving endangered species.

When he collapsed unexpectedly after a gym session in 2001, Adams – a lifelong atheist – was cremated and his ashes now rest in Highgate cemetery in London. His memorial service became the first church service to be webcast by the BBC.

 

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