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Douglas Adams: Biography, Books & Death

Instructor: Megan Pryor

Megan has tutored extensively and has a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Fiction.

In this lesson, we will learn about English writer Douglas Adams. We will learn about his life, his books, and his death. After the lesson, we will wrap up with a short quiz.

Introduction

Douglas Adams was a well-known English author. You might not have heard of him, but you may have heard of his book series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was made into a movie in 2005. If you haven't heard of him, he was an English writer who wrote typically humorous books. In addition to his books, Douglas Adams was a relentless atheist and environmental activist. Both of these beliefs informed his writing.

Douglas Adams speaking at an event
Photograph Of Douglas Adams

Biography

Douglas Adams grew up in England. After his parents divorced, his mother took him and his sister to live with his grandparents who ran an animal shelter. The experience of living there helped inspire his love of animals. From the beginning, Douglas Adams showed both considerable writing skill and humor.

One of the highlights of Douglas Adams' career in when he was given a writing credit for a sketch he worked on with a Monty Python cast member. He also appeared briefly in a few Monty Python skits. After his stint assisting Monty Python, Douglas Adams experienced a lot of writing frustration and writer's block. To make ends meet, he worked a series of miscellaneous jobs, including as a bodyguard.

Douglas Adams married later in life and had one child, a daughter. He was a steadfast atheist his entire life, referring to himself as a radical atheist, just so no one would confuse him for an agnostic. He was also a huge environmental activist and even got involved in a charity event in which he had to climb a mountain in a rhino suit to raise money for endangered species. While Douglas Adams loved technology and was a huge supporter of Macintosh products, he also campaigned to make sustainable changes in the technology field, such as making chargers universal to cut down on waste.

Books

Douglas Adams' most famous book series is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It started as a comedy radio program but eventually became a TV series and the series of books with which most fans are probably more familiar. Although Douglas Adams began trying to turn The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy into a movie as early as 1980, a movie was not made until 2005. In its various incarnations, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has been translated into more than 30 languages.

The series follows Arthur Dent, a human who gets sucked into hitchhiking around the galaxy by Ford Prefect, an alien. Ford Prefect helps write and edit entries in The Hitchhiker's Guide of the Galaxy, a digital book which is constantly updated with new information about the galaxy. Arthur Dent just wants to return to Earth, but it has been scheduled for destruction by the Vogons, so he cannot return and must wander the galaxy, permanently displaced.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novels include The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Universe, and Everything, So Long and Thanks For All The Fish, and Mostly Harmless.

He also wrote The Meaning of Liff, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, The Deeper Meaning of Liff, and Last Chance to See. Adams also started The Salmon of Doubt, which was published after his death.

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