Wish You Were Here: The Official Biography of Douglas Adams

ISBN: 0345476514
ISBN 13: 9780345476517
By: Nick Webb

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About this book

It all started when Douglas Adams demolished planet Earth in order to make way for an intergalactic expressway–and then invited everyone to thumb a ride on a comical cosmic road trip with the likes of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and the other daft denizens of deep space immortalized in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Adams made the universe a much funnier place to inhabit and forever changed the way we think about towels, extraterrestrial poetry, and especially the number 42. And then, too soon, he was gone.Just who was this impossibly tall Englishman who wedded science fiction and absurdist humor to create the multimillion-selling five-book “trilogy” that became a cult phenomenon read round the world? Even if you’ve dined in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, you’ve been exposed to only a portion of the offbeat, endearing, and irresistible Adams mystique. Have you met the only official unofficial member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus? The very first person to purchase a Macintosh computer? The first (and thus far only) author to play a guitar solo onstage with Pink Floyd? Adams was also the writer so notorious for missing deadlines that he had to be held captive in a hotel room under the watchful eye of his editor; the creator of the epic computer game Starship Titanic; and a globetrotting wildlife crusader.A longtime friend of the author, Nick Webb reveals many quirks and contradictions: Adams as the high-tech-gadget junkie and lavish gift giver . . .irrepressible ham and painfully timid soul . . . gregarious conversationalist and brooding depressive . . . brilliant intellect and prickly egotist. Into the brief span of forty-nine years, Douglas Adams exuberantly crammed more lives than the most resilient cat–while still finding time and energy to pursue whatever side projects captivated his ever-inquisitive mind. By turns touching, tongue-in-cheek, and not at all timid about telling the warts-and-all truth, Wish You Were Here is summation as celebration– a look back at a life well worth the vicarious reliving, and studded with anecdote, droll comic incident, and heartfelt insight as its subject’s own unforgettable tales of cosmic wanderlust. For the countless fans of Douglas Adams and his unique and winsome world, here is a wonderful postcard: to be read, reread, and treasured for the memories it bears.From the Hardcover edition.

Reader's Thoughts


Fantastic! It takes a little while to get going through some slightly dull plodding about at the start discussing Douglas Adams' family, but it really hits its stride once the great author gets into the picture. Very intelligent and often funny (maybe a bit too much America-bashing from author Webb, ironic as Douglas loved America), this book is straightforward for about half the pages and then goes off the rails in different directions about Adams' life. Appropriate, though, given how full of ideas and enthusiastic Adams was about everything. I really enjoyed it, recommended for Adams fans especially.


I borrowed this from the library based on Mia's recommendation. So far, I'm really enjoying it.


I liked it. It did a good job of showing where the zaniness came from, but also told a lot about him that couldn't be inferred from his books. I hadn't realized he was such a bad procrastinator - it's a good measure of how valuable he was to his publisher that they'd go to the lengths they had to, to get him to write something! I'm glad they did, though, and I'll always be sorry he didn't get a chance to delay his way through more books.


It's more of a theme-based biography than strictly chronological & very British (I have got to start using the word "kipple"!). Mr. Webb was also an acquaintance of Douglas & as well as being the "official biographer", he was able to bring some of his personal insights to the work. I learned more about his family background that I remember reading in either the Gaiman or Simpson bios - the section of pictures (if a bit too small) was a lovely addition, as was the list of Douglas' favourite Beatles tunes. The index and List of Works would probably be useful if you were doing research. I'll be adding this book to my Amazon wish list.FWIW - I had the great fortune to meet Adams in the mid 1990's at a book reading/signing... I thanked him for his work and its influence on getting me and my husband together & I got a rather confused "You're welcome" type of reply. It's a tossup as to which creative -mind-gone-too-soon I miss the most: Douglas or Jim Henson.

Brian Steed

Nick Webb is a fine writer. I can’t find anything else by him on Amazon, so I’m assuming this is his first book. He should do more biographies. I loved the observant and well-phrased asides he scatters throughout the book. He seems as genuinely fascinated by the natural world, literature, and technology as Adams was.


I'm a big fan of Douglas Adams.But not obsessed enough to be able to finish this book.It is done well enough, for sure, and I respect that.I just cannot finish this book. I mean, it might actually be longer then The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe...


This was a very comprehensive book, and very entertaining to read. It made me like Douglas Adams all the more, and really makes me want to go back and reread everything he's written! It took me an unusually long time to read for some reason (not a quick read), but I enjoyed every minute of it.


eh, i ended up skimming. maybe i just wasn't in the mood for a bio. it did make me want to read more douglas adams though.

Iain Turnbull

Frankly, this was quite disappointing. The subject matter was certainly interesting, but the author's style is appalling - it reads like it was written by a schoolboy at times, with a plethora of completely pointless footnotes. It's also obvious that the author was not nearly detached enough from his subject, and it was more like someone regaling you with tales of an old friend, rather than a subjective biography.


Douglas Adams is one of my favorite writers, and I've been a fan of his books since I was about 12 or 13. Ironically, I was introduced to his first book (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) by my older brother, who has no sense of humor whatsoever.I read this at the same time as reading another Douglas Adams biography, called "Hitchhiker", written by M.J. Simpson. The reason I did this is I wanted to get a more complete sense of the life of my favorite humorist from more than just one viewpoint. Sure, each book is filled with interviews, but different writers focus on different things, and there was bound to be some stories and events that, while glossed over in one book, would be more fully described in the other. And I indeed found this to be the case. This book did a better job of telling the story of Mr. Adams' life from the viewpoints of his family and close friends. You get a sense of intimacy and closeness that is missing from the other book, largely because author Nick Webb was a close friend of Mr. Adams and family, and he had many personal stories to tell.I recommend this highly to anyone who has enjoyed or been influenced by the works of Douglas Adams. It is a worthy tribute to his life.


Not a bad read, but I really enjoy reading Adams' own work instead of this bio. I really recommend "Salmon of Doubt", not quite a bio, but puts you inside of his head- which is an amusing place to be.

Kate Millin

Official biography and a fascinating read and insight to the man - would now like to read the other biography - don't panic


Great personal biography by one of Douglas' friends and colleagues. Vivid portrayal and intimate look at the author whose wit and love of science and obvious curiosity/philosophical interest in life drew me to his Hitchhikers series.


Anybody who has to deal with me on any sort of basis, as in ever, should basically consider this book required reading. I also have about the same affinity for lunches, so, you know, buying me one wouldn't be bad for our relationship.

Vasil Kolev

This was great, makes me want to reread all his books again.

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