Douglas Noel Adams was an English author, scriptwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist. Adamss contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academys Hall of Fame, a posthumous collection of his works, including an unfinished novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002. Adams was known as an advocate for environmentalism and conservation, as a lover of fast cars, cameras, technological innovation and the Apple Macintosh, Adams was born on 11 March 1952 to Janet and Christopher Douglas Adams in Cambridge, England. The following year in 1953, Watson and Crick famously first modelled DNA at Cambridge University, the family moved to East London a few months after his birth, where his sister, Susan, was born three years later. His parents divorced in 1957, Douglas, Susan, and their mother moved to an RSPCA animal shelter in Brentwood, Essex, Adams attended Primrose Hill Primary School in Brentwood. At nine, he passed the exam for Brentwood School, an independent school whose alumni include Robin Day, Jack Straw, Noel Edmonds. Griff Rhys Jones was a year below him, and he was in the class as Stuckist artist Charles Thomson. He attended the school from 1959 to 1964, then the main school until December 1970. Adams was six feet tall by age 12 and stopped growing at 6 ft 5 in and 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 unnecessarily tall and in his short trousers he looked a trifle self-conscious, the form-master wouldnt say Meet under the clock tower, or Meet under the war memorial, he joked, but Meet under Adams. Yet it was his ability to write stories that really made him shine. He became the student ever to be awarded a ten out of ten by Halford for creative writing, something he remembered for the rest of his life. He also designed the cover of one issue of the Broadsheet, and had a letter and short story published nationally in The Eagle, in it, Adams rhymes futile with mute, while and exhausted with of course did. On the strength of an essay on religious poetry that discussed the Beatles and William Blake, he was awarded an Exhibition in English at St Johns College, Cambridge. He wanted to join the Footlights, an invitation-only student comedy club that has acted as a hothouse for comic talent, 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. After leaving university Adams moved back to London, determined to break into TV, an edited version of the Footlights Revue appeared on BBC2 television in 1974. A version of the Revue performed live in Londons West End led to Adams being discovered by Monty Pythons Graham Chapman, the two formed a brief writing partnership, earning Adams a writing credit in episode 45 of Monty Python for a sketch called Patient Abuse. He is one of two people outside the original Python members to get a writing credit
Image: Douglas adams portrait cropped
Adams in his first Monty Python appearance, in full surgeon's garb
Towel Day 2005 in Innsbruck, Austria, where Adams first had the idea of The Hitchhiker's Guide. In the novels a towel is the most useful thing a space traveller can have. The annual Towel Day (25 May) was first celebrated in 2001, two weeks after Adams's death.