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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Adams) - Author Bio

Author Bio 
Birth—March 11, 1952
Where—Cambridge, UK
Death—May 11, 2001
Where—Santa Barbara, California, USA
Education—B.A., Cambridge University

Douglas Noël Adams was an English writer, dramatist, and musician. He is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a "trilogy" of five books that sold over 15 million copies in his lifetime, a television series, several stage plays, comics, a computer game, and in 2005 a feature film. Adams's contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy's Hall of Fame.

He also wrote Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987) and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988), and co-wrote The Meaning of Liff (1983), Last Chance to See (1990), and three stories for the television series Doctor Who. A posthumous collection of his work, including an unfinished novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002.

Known to some of his fans as "Bop Ad" for his illegible signature, Adams became known as an advocate for animals and the environment, and a lover of fast cars, cameras, and the Apple Mac. He was a staunch atheist, famously imagining a sentient puddle who wakes up one morning and thinks, "This is an interesting world I find myself in—an interesting hole I find myself in—fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" The biologist Richard Dawkins dedicated his book, The God Delusion, to Adams, writing on his death that, "science has lost a friend, literature has lost a luminary, the mountain gorilla and the black rhino have lost a gallant defender."

More (than you will ever want to know)
Adams attended Primrose Hill Primary School in Brentwood. At six, he passed the entrance exam for Brentwood School, a boarding school whose alumni include Robin Day, Jack Straw, Noel Edmonds, and David Irving. Griff Rhys Jones was a year below him, and he was in the same class as Stuckist artist Charles Thomson. He attended the prep school from 1959 to 1964, then the main school until December 1970. His form master, Frank Halford, said of him: "Hundreds of boys have passed through the school but Douglas Adams really stood out from the crowd—literally. He was unnaturally tall and in his short trousers he looked a trifle self-conscious. Yet it was his ability to write first-class stories that really made him shine." Adams was six feet tall (1.83 m) by age 12 and finally stopped growing at 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m): "[T]he form-master wouldn't say 'Meet under the clock tower,' or 'Meet under the war memorial'," he joked, "but 'Meet under Adams'." He became the only student ever to be awarded a ten out of ten by Halford for creative writing, something he remembered for the rest of his life, particularly when facing writer's block.

Some of his earliest writing was published at the school, such as a report on its photography club in The Brentwoodian in 1962, or spoof reviews in the school magazine Broadsheet, edited by Paul Neil Milne Johnstone, who later became a character in The Hitchhiker's Guide. He also designed the cover of one issue of the Broadsheet, and had a letter and short story published nationally in The Eagle, the boys' comic, in 1965. On the strength of a bravura essay on religious poetry that discussed The Beatles and William Blake, he was awarded a place at St John's College, Cambridge to read English, going up in 1971, though in fact the reason he applied to Cambridge was to join the Footlights, an invitation-only student comedy club that acted as a hothouse for some of the most notable comic talent in England. He was not elected immediately as he had hoped, and started to write and perform in revues with Will Adams (no relation) and Martin Smith, forming a group called "Adams-Smith-Adams," but through sheer doggedness managed to become a member of the Footlights by 1973. Despite doing very little work—he recalled having completed three essays in three years—he graduated in 1974 with a B.A. in English literature.

Some of his early work appeared on BBC2 television in 1974, in an edited version of the Footlights Revue that year. A version of the Revue performed live in London's West End led to Adams being discovered by Monty Python's Graham Chapman. The two formed a brief writing partnership, and Adams earned a writing credit in one episode (episode 45: "Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Liberal Party in 1982") of Monty Python for a sketch called "Patient Abuse"; he was one of only two people, outside the original Python members to get a writing credit (the other being Neil Innes). In the sketch, a man who had been stabbed by a nurse arrives at his doctor's office bleeding from the stomach. The doctor asks him to fill out numerous senseless forms before he will administer treatment (a joke later incorporated into the Vogons' obsession with paperwork). Adams also contributed to a sketch on the album for Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

And then some 
Douglas Adams in his first Monty Python appearance, in full surgeon's garb in episode 42. Douglas had two brief appearances in the fourth series of Monty Python's Flying Circus. At the beginning of episode 42, "The Light Entertainment War", Adams is in a surgeon's mask (as Dr. Emile Koning, according to on-screen captions), pulling on gloves, while Michael Palin narrates a sketch that introduces one person after another but never actually gets started. At the beginning of episode 44, "Mr. Neutron", Adams is dressed in a "pepperpot" outfit and loads a missile on to a cart driven by Terry Jones, who is calling for scrap metal ("Any old iron..."). The two episodes were broadcast in November 1974. Adams and Chapman also attempted non-Python projects, including Out of the Trees.

Some of Adams's early radio work included sketches for The Burkiss Way in 1977 and The News Huddlines. He also wrote, again with Graham Chapman, the 20 February 1977 episode of Doctor on the Go, a sequel to the Doctor in the House television comedy series.

As Adams had difficulty selling jokes and stories, he took a series of odd jobs, including as a hospital porter, barn builder, and chicken shed cleaner. He was employed as a bodyguard by a Qatar family, who had made their fortune in oil. Anecdotes about the job included that the family had once ordered one of everything from a hotel's menu, tried all the dishes, and sent out for hamburgers. Another story had to do with a prostitute sent to the floor Adams was guarding one evening. They acknowledged each other as she entered, and an hour later, when she left, she is said to have remarked, "At least you can read while you're on the job."

In 1979, Adams and John Lloyd wrote scripts for two half-hour episodes of Doctor Snuggles: "The Remarkable Fidgety River" and "The Great Disappearing Mystery" (episodes seven and twelve). John Lloyd was also co-author of two episodes from the original "Hitchhiker" radio series (Fit the Fifth and Fit the Sixth, also known as Episodes Five and Six), as well as The Meaning of Liff and The Deeper Meaning of Liff. Lloyd and Adams also collaborated on an SF movie comedy project based on The Guinness Book of World Records, which would have starred John Cleese as the UN Secretary General, and had a race of aliens beating humans in athletic competitions, but the humans winning in all of the "absurd" record categories. The latter never proceeded past a treatment.

After the first radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide became successful, Adams was made a BBC radio producer, working on Week Ending and a pantomime called Black Cinderella Two Goes East. He left the position after six months to become the script editor for Doctor Who.  (From Wikipedia .)




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