English writer and humorist Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge in 1952. He became interested in writing at an early age, becoming well-known at his prep school, Brentwood, and publishing many of his first projects in their paper, The Brentwoodian, and their magazine, Broadsheet.
He went on to study English at St. Johns College, where he started his comedy group and was eventually invited to participate in the school’s official comedy group, Footlights. His work with Footlights drew the interest of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, and for a short time, the two entered into a writing partnership that should have given him the writing credits to launch his career. However, his style wasn't popular then, so he did not succeed immediately.
He eventually found work as a script editor for the classic science fiction show Doctor Who, even writing three serials for the program himself. In 1978, his best-known work, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, began its run as a BBC radio program. He went on to adapt the radio show into five beloved novels—his efforts to see them adapted into film led to the production of a well-received BBC miniseries. However, Adams passed away in 2001 and never saw the 2005 film adaptation.
The following passages represent the best, funniest, most touching aspects of Adams' unique voice and perspective:
For instance, on Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons. – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The story so far:
In the beginning, the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Zaphod Beeblebrox crawled bravely along a tunnel like the hell of a guy he was. He was baffled but continued crawling doggedly anyway because he was that brave. – Life, the Universe, and Everything
This man is the bee's knees, Arthur, he is the wasp's nipples. He is, I would go so far as to say, the entire set of erogenous zones of every major flying insect of the Western world. – So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish
If the Universe came to an end every time there was some uncertainty about what had happened in it, it would never have gone beyond the first picosecond. And many of course, don't. It's like a human body, you see. A few cuts and bruises here and there don't hurt it. Not even major surgery if it's done properly. Paradoxes are just the scar tissue. Time and space heal themselves up around them, and people simply remember a version of events that makes as much sense as they require it to make. – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
“What was the Sherlock Holmes principle? ‘Once you have discounted the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’"
“I reject that entirely,” said Dirk sharply. “The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbably lacks. How often have you been presented with an apparently rational explanation of something that works in all respects other than one, which is that it is hopelessly improbable?... The first idea merely supposes that there is something we don’t know about, and...there are enough of those. The second, however, runs contrary to something fundamental and human that we do know about. We should therefore be very suspicious of it and all its specious rationality.” – The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.