Douglas Adams was born in 1952 in Cambridge, England. Douglas’s mother, Janet, worked as a nurse while his father, studied post-graduate theology. However, his parents divorced in 1957. After the divorce, Douglas and his sister, Susan, moved with their mother to Brentwood, Essex. His father remarried and the couple had a daughter; his half-sister Heather and his mother’s remarriage resulted in two more half-siblings named Jane and James.
Douglas attended the Brentwood School in Essex from 1959 to 1970. He first became interested in writing at age ten after receiving a good grade on an English composition. Douglas’s essay on the revival of religious poetry won him a place at Cambridge University. Douglas had grown up Christian, particularly as a result of his father’s study, however at age 18 he had an epiphany which led him to become an agnostic.
He stopped to listen to a minister and realized that the minister was talking total nonsense. Further thought on the topic led him to doubt the idea of a god.
Douglas wanted to join Footlights, a prestigious comedy club on campus, but after his first year, he found the club to be too blasé. Instead, he joined the Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society and performed on campus.
During his attendance at Cambridge, Douglas hitchhiked across Europe. He worked various jobs throughout his travel introducing him to a variety of lifestyles and individuals.
Douglas graduated from college in three years with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English literature despite his admitted lack of hard work. In his early thirties, Douglas made the theological move from agnosticism to atheism after exposure to evolutionary biology.
Douglas began his career by writing for BBC2 television in 1974. His work was discovered by Monty Python’s Graham Chapman which led to a brief writing partnership. Their work earned Adams a writing credit for a Monty Python episode entitled Part Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Liberal Party in 1982. Douglas had two brief cameos in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Douglas continued his career in radio with sketches like The Burkiss Way and The News Huddlines. However, Adams had difficulty marketing his comedy and worked a variety of odd jobs to support himself. Douglas achieved comedic success when his first radio series The Hitchhiker’s Guide became successful. His success led to Adams’s promotion as a BBC radio producer, however, he left this position six months later to become the script editor for Doctor Who.
Adams’s most famous work, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was a concept for a science-fiction comedy radio that he originally pitched to Simon Brett in 1977. BBC Radio 4 broadcast the first weekly radio series in 1978. The series became an instant success and a second set of episodes was broadcast in 1980. During this time, Adams worked on writing So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish.
In 1991, Dougals married Jane Belson and the two of them had a daughter named Polly Jane in 1994.
By 1992, Adams had published five novels in the series. These books became adapted into comic books, interactive computer games, and even photo illustration. Eventually in 2005, the first book was adapted into a box office film.
Adams’s work on Doctor Who originated in 1978 when he sent the script for the pilot to the Doctor Who production office. Altogether, Douglas wrote three Doctor Who serials staring Tom Baker as the Doctor including The Pirate Planet, City of Death, and Shada.
Douglas Adams had a good deal of influence on a wide range of activities ranging from music to computer games.
Unfortunately, Douglas died of a heart attack in 2001.
In honor of his birthday.