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

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.


Douglas Adams has always made me laugh.His biography was a wonderful insight into the mind of true genus.

Vasil Kolev

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


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


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.

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.


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.


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...

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.


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.


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

Patrick Lum

Neil Gaiman's unofficial biography is better; I feel like the author's presence (not DNA's) is pretty heavy here.


A biography that's actually fun.


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.

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