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


Another thrift store find... and a fantastic one at that! Douglas Adams was a difficult genius and Nick Webb did a wonderful job of telling the story in a very even-handed manner. He admits Adams's shortcomings as well as some of his unpublicized triumphs. Webb's writing is also great. A biography has never been so fun! He has a quirky humor, much like Adams, that makes it an enjoyable read. The only bummer is that the book was published before the movie was released - I would have loved to hear his thoughts on the movie, and the thoughts of all the other creative minds behind Hitchhiker's to see how they felt about it. (I personally love the movie)


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


OK it's bias towards Adams. But who wouldn't be. He was brilliant


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.


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...


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.

Kate Millin

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


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.

Jason ("jcreed")

A bit rambly but enjoyable.Personally I find it extremely heartening that one of the funniest, most capable writers of the last few decades was beset by crippling self-doubt as to his abilities or chance of success in the world. Add to that the fact that are plenty of people who just as vastly overestimate their talents, and it just goes to show you never know.The biography is quite tolerable until the omg-he's-the-greatest quality of it gets to you. It's not like the level of admiration increases over time, or is particularly worth complaining about in the first place (not to mention that it's entirely understandable in the first place since the author was a friend of his) but it's like eating moderately spicy food until it builds up in your mouth and you just can't take any more spiciness.

Mark Bruhn

I miss Douglas Adams, though I preferred his earlier work to his later (I know, this is biography, sue me). He does seem to have been quite a character.


This isn't just a must-read for Adams fans, it's also a must-read for writers or any other creative type who enjoys the sweet torture of procrastination - Adams was a master of the genre.I'm not much of a biographies person but this one is almost like hanging out with Adams, he's that well captured.

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.


Bought a second hand copy for $1. Can't wait to read it! I will probably re-read all the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books again after reading this book.

Astrid Detlefsen

Besides Humphrey Carpenter's Tolkien-biography this is without a doubt one of the best biographies I have ever read - if it isn't actually the best. Nick Webb has caught the mood and mannerism of Douglas Adams to perfection, and anyone who's read Hitchhiker's or any of his other books will recognize the whimsical and charming humor inside this one.Wish You Were Here toes the line between what is personal and what is too personal to tell in a biography, but never once does he cross it and there's never an uncomfortable moment when you think he's overshared a bit. All the stories he tell, and the natural criticism any imperfect human will be subjected to when their lives are being retold, are treated with the utmost respect and affection for the people in them. All I can say about this book is: read it. If you are familiar with Douglas Adams it will be like befriending him all over again with all his faults and virtues; if you don't know Douglas Adams read it anyway. This is the perfect example of how to write a biography that is truly in the spirit of it's subject.Douglas Adams did not like biographies. But I believe that if Douglas Adams had to write an autobiography, it would be exactly like Wish You Were Here.

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