Douglas Adams - Highgate East Cemetery, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 33.989 W 000° 08.722
30U E 697840 N 5716685
Quick Description: Douglas Adams, a writer, was probably best known for The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. He is buried in a grave, with a simple headstone, in the east part of the famous Highgate Cemetery in north London.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 6/9/2013 2:25:48 AM
Waymark Code: WMH912
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
Views: 4

Long Description:

The grave is close to one of the main maps and is in square "B1" of the East Cemetery map (2013). At some point a pot has been placed in front of the headstone and writing implements have been added - probably by fans. The pens add a splash of colour to a grey headstone that is simply inscribed with:

Douglas Adams
1952 - 2001

The Douglas Adams website carries a biography of Adams:

Douglas Noel Adams was born on March 11, 1952 in Cambridge. His mother, Janet Adams, born Donovan, was a nurse at Addenbrooke's and his father, Christopher Douglas Adams, was a postgraduate theology student at Ridley Hall. He later became a teacher of theology, but this was obviously not his final goal and he became a probation officer and later even a lecturer on probationary theory and practice.

Douglas parents got divorced when he was five and he moved to Brentwood with his mother and two years younger sister Sue. In 1962 his father married again and had another child in 1965, a half-sister to Douglas, who now teaches English in the Canaries. His mother married Ron Thrift in 1964 and that resulted in Douglas' half-sister Jane in 1966 and half-brother James in 1968. Jane went on to become a zoologist, and James works here. James' wife gave birth to their first born, a girl named Ella, in May 2004. Ron Thrift died of cancer in 1991.

From 1959 until 1970 Douglas attended Brentwood School in Essex, at which time he was still more interested in the field of science than in the arts. The moment he thought seriously about writing for the first time was at the age of ten, when he got "ten out of ten" for a composition in Frank Halfords class - reportedly the first and only time Mr. Halford has ever given "ten out of ten".

By his essay on the revival of religious poetry he won himself an exhibition to study English at Cambridge. Douglas was eager to go to Cambridge as he wanted to join Footlights, a comedy revue group there. But in his first term he found them "aloof and rather pleased with themselves" and he joined CULES (Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society) instead.

Before and while he studied at Cambridge he decided to hitch-hike to Istanbul and all over Europe and in order to make the money for his travels he worked as a chicken-shed cleaner, barn builder and hospital porter (in the X-ray department of Yeovil General Hospital; he was not unfamiliar with this kind of job as he had worked in a mental hospital while he was still at school).

In his second term he joined Footlights on the strength of Simon Jones, who was "friendly and helpful, all the things the others weren't, a completely nice guy". But as his ideas were not accepted by the rest, he ended up forming the 'guerilla' revue group Adams-Smith-Adams together with Adams and Smith. They hired a theatre for a week and with them he had his first considerable hit. In summer 1974 Douglas left Cambridge and had finally decided to become a writer and was confident he would.

None of his several first attempts as a comedy writer brought him the great success. He eventually worked together with Graham Chapman (a member of Monty Python) and John Lloyd, but most of the projects never saw the light of day and the few that did were not worth mentioning.

Jane & Polly
On February 4 1977 he met Simon Brett, who then was doing Radio 4’s ‘The Burkiss Way’. They agreed to produce a science fiction comedy show on radio. This was the birth of the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Douglas married Jane Belson on November 24 1991 (they had been introduced to each other in the early 80:s by a mutual friend) and they have a daughter by the name Polly Jane, born on June 22, 1994. They lived in Islington, London, UK but in 1999 they moved to Santa Barbara, California, USA. In 1997 Douglas had signed a deal with Disney to make a feature movie of Hitchhiker, and he immediately started working on the screenplay. Jay Roach, of Austin Powers fame, was signed as director.

Douglas co-founded the company The Digital Village, now extinct and divided into and Phase3 Studios (Which in its turn became extinct in spring 2002). TDV:s business was to produce nearly everything that has to do with media; TV, movies, computer games a.s.o. Douglas was one of the creators of Starship Titanic, a combined book (written by Terry Jones of the Monty Python-bunch) and computer game. Douglas also wrote the Dirk Gently novels and a non fiction book, "Last chance to see", about endangered species (with Mark Carwardine).

"He had a narrowing of the arteries in the heart, which is hard to detect, and an arrhythmic heartbeat, which is usually benign. This could have happened any time, and I'm glad it wasn't when he was driving." - Douglas' wife Jane.

On the morning of May 11 2001, Douglas went to the local gym to work out. He had been walking the treadmill and went on for some aerobics. Peter, his trainer, examined Douglas and found his heart rate quite normal, round 130. After aerobics it was time for some gym workout. First up was stomach crunches, and Douglas lay down on the bench. The trainer turned to get Douglas' towel, and when he turned back to hand it over, Douglas rolled off the bench, suffering a massive heart attack. All attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. Peter got on the phone and called Jane, saying Douglas had fainted and had been taken to the hospital.

Douglas was dead. He left his 6 year old daughter Polly, his wife Jane, his mother Jan Thrift and countless other family members and friends, not to mention thousands and thousands of fans all over the world, in shock and mourning. By the time of his death he had just finished a draft of the screenplay to a feature movie of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Douglas was cremated in Santa Barbara and is buried in Highgate Cemetery (East), Highgate, London, England, plot: Square 74, Plot 52377. Jane and Polly have moved back to Islington, London together with their cats.

Scattered information

I'm not sure if Douglas was a sports fan. We all know he went to the gym every once in a while, and one time too many. I once asked him if he played golf or had tried it, since he was a Wodehouse fan and since Wodehouse wrote many funny golf related stories. He said:

"I love the Wodehouse stories about golf, as you might imagine. My one experience of it was many, many years ago, when a friend of mine offered to introduce me to the sport, and we played a round at a local golf course. My friend wasn't a great player, but he was a goodish player and he took it very seriously. The inevitable happened and he found himself playing rather badly, and fluffing easy shots, as a result of which he became rather tense and morose. I, as complete beginners often do, hit one or two lucky shots. By the end of the game my friend was such a clenched knot of self hatred that the whole thing was unbearable. I thought I'd give it a rest for twenty or thirty years to wait for the memories of that hideous day to wear off, but they haven't really subsided yet."

Relevant Web Site: [Web Link]

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