11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001
#TowelDay was started 20 years ago (25 May 2001) to commemorate Adams’ death and honor his work, particularly The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Adams is buried in Highgate East, his headstone a simple gray tablet with a jaunty placard labeled 42 for those in-the-know to appreciate. Fans leave pens in the ceramic container sitting beside the headstone.
I was and continue to be a fan of Adams’ work dating back to his time on Doctor Who. I read his books, was an early and loud proclaimer that Dirk Gently was the superior series, and my first encounter with Neil Gaiman’s writing was through his book on Adams’ work.
He was a famous procrastinator, missing book deadlines so often that no release announcement was heeded by true fans (or librarians) unless the advance copies had been printed. Anyone who claims there is a definitive version of Hitchhiker is mistaken as Adams was constantly remixing it himself, his background in radio and television making him unafraid to mess with his own stories and treat them less as sacrosanct than as a good starting point (the bones for the first Dirk Gently book are an abandoned Doctor Who script and this happened fairly often in his work; there is Doctor Who DNA in at least one of his later Hitchhiker’s books, too).
He was interested in everything and even researched and wrote a difficult and prophetic nonfiction book on extinction entitled Last Chance to See.
He died far too soon at the age of only 49 but left a legacy of hilarious, deeply intelligent, and beautifully human work.
RIP Douglas Adams, a hoopy frood who really knew where his towel was.
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