Douglas Noel Adams (March 11, 1952 - May 11, 2001) or DNA, was a British comic author, most notably the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (HHGG).
Education and early works
Adams was born in Cambridge and educated at Brentwood School, Essex where he became friends with Griff Rhys Jones. Adams attended St John's College, Cambridge, and worked with Rhys Jones in the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club. In 1974, Adams received a BA (and later, an MA) in English literature.
An autobiography from an early edition of one of the HHGG novels provided the following description of his early career:
After graduation he spent several years contributing material to radio and television shows as well as writing, performing, and sometimes directing stage revues in London, Cambridge and at the Edinburgh Fringe. He has also worked at various times as a hospital porter, barn builder, chicken shed cleaner, bodyguard, radio producer and script editor of Doctor Who.
Douglas worked with Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame and has a writing credit in one episode (episode 45: "Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Liberal Party") of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Subsequently he worked as a script editor of the BBC Television programme Doctor Who and wrote three serials for that series:
"The Pirate Planet"
"City of Death"
Between 1978 and 1984, Douglas Adams and John Lloyd together wrote the script for two half hour episodes of Doctor Snuggles called "Dr Snuggles and the Nervous River".
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was originally a twelve-"fit" (i.e. twelve-part) radio series broadcast in the UK by BBC Radio 4 in 1978. The radio programme served as the basis for the first two novels of what eventually became a "trilogy in five parts". It was also the basis for a six-part BBC television series in 1981.
Adams was never a prolific writer and usually had to be forced by others to do any writing. This included being locked in a hotel suite with his editor for a sizable period of time to ensure that So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish was completed. He has been quoted as saying, "I love deadlines, especially the whooshing sound they make as they go by."
Plans to make HHGG into a major motion picture were in the works for more than twenty years, and were finally freed from development hell in late September 2003. Although Austin Powers director Jay Roach was at one time signed on to the project the Hammer and Tongs duo, Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith, got the responsibility. Key to the go-ahead was a rewrite of the screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick, who had earlier worked on Chicken Run. Shooting is scheduled to begin in spring 2004, with Robbie Stamp, Douglas' friend and business partner, as an Executive Producer, and Walt Disney Pictures as distributors. Adams once described the Hollywood process as "trying to grill a steak by having a succession of people come into the room and breathe on it."
Computer games and projects
Douglas Adams created an interactive fiction version of HHGG together with Steve Meretzky from Infocom in 1984. Later he was also involved in creating Bureaucracy (also by Infocom, but not based on any book). Adams was also responsible for the computer game Starship Titanic, which was published in 1999 by Simon and Schuster. The accompanying book, entitled Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic, was written by Terry Jones, since Adams was too busy with the computer game to do both. In April 1999, Adams initiated the H2G2 collaborative writing project.
Adams was also an environmental activist who campaigned on behalf of a number of endangered species. This activism included the production of the non-fiction radio series Last Chance to See, in which he and naturalist Mark Carwardine visited rare species such as the kakapo, and the publication of a tie-in book of the same name.
Adams died of a heart attack at the age of 49, while working out at his gym in Santa Barbara, California. He was survived by his wife Jane and daughter Polly. In May 2002, The Salmon of Doubt was published, which includes many short stories, essays, and letters, and eulogies from Richard Dawkins and Stephen Fry. It also includes eleven chapters of his long-awaited but unfinished novel, The Salmon of Doubt, which was to be a new Dirk Gently and/or HHGG novel, or neither.
His official biography, Wish You Were Here, by Nick Webb, was published on October 6, 2003 (ISBN 0755311558) -  (http://www.douglasadams.com/news/#20030703-0-n.dna).
Another recent biography is Hitchhiker: a Biography of Douglas Adams (2003) by M. J. Simpson, with a foreword by John Lloyd (ISBN 0340824883).
Upon the mutual discovery that Webb and Simpson were both working on new posthumous biographies, the two authors agreed that the former would focus on Adams' life and personality, and the latter on his work.
Earlier biographies include:
Don't Panic (1988, 1993, 2003), Neil Gaiman et al. Reissued October 2003 (ISBN 1840237422) with new chapters by M. J. Simpson and David K. Dickson.
The Unofficial Guide to the Hitchhiker's Guide (2001), , M. J. Simpson. Published as The Pocket Essential Hitchhiker's Guide (2001) in the U.K.
His official biography shares its name with a song by Pink Floyd. Adams was friendly with their guitarist David Gilmour and, as a birthday gift, was allowed to made a guest appearance at one of their 1994 concerts in London, playing rhythm guitar on the songs "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse". Adams had named their 1994 album, The Division Bell by picking the words from the lyrics to one of its tracks.
Douglas Adams' works
Novels in the HHGG series
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (book) (1979)
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)
Life, the Universe and Everything (1982)
So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish (1984)
Mostly Harmless (1992)
All of the above are also available as audio books, read by Adams.
The Dirk Gently series
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul (1988)
The Salmon of Doubt (2001) (Published, unfinished, after his death. Assembled from files stored on his computers, it will probably never be known whether the book was put together correctly or not)
The Meaning of Liff (1983, with John Lloyd)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts (1985, with Geoffrey Perkins)
The Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book (1986, edited by Douglas Adams)
Young Zaphod Plays it Safe (first published in The Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book; a reworked version appeared in The Wizards of Odd, The Salmon of Doubt, and some omnibus editions of the series)
The Deeper Meaning of Liff (1990, with John Lloyd; extended version of The Meaning of Liff)
Last Chance to See (1991, with Mark Carwardine, non-fictional account of several trips to see endangered species; according to a piece in The Salmon of Doubt, this book gave Adams the most satisfaction, if not the highest sales)
Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic (written by Terry Jones, based on an idea by Douglas Adams)
The Salmon of Doubt (2002), unfinished novel manuscript (11 chapters), short stories, essays, and interviews
Tributes and honorifics
Various Douglas Adams Societies exist or have existed.