Sherborne Literary Festival to celebrate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The old Apple Mac computer and do-it-yourself desktop which go on exhibition next month might look like junk to some, but for millions of fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy they are precious relics.
The exhibition, which also includes scripts from the cult science fiction comedy, are part of Sherborne Literary Festival’s celebration of Hitchhiker’s creator, Douglas Adams. The series, one of the most famous of all time, was first broadcast in 1978 and grew into an international multi-media phenomenon, but Adams wrote it in the Dorset village of Stalbridge, where he was living with his mother and half-siblings, Jane and James Thrift. Family members are lending items from the period, including the hand-held keyboard which Adams used in the bath.
Simon Brett, who produced the first episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide, and John Lloyd, who worked on some of the scripts, will reminisce about those hilarious early days.
Stalbridge can claim to have been the inspiration for a key part of the plot – the demolition of Earth by alien Vogons to make way for a hyperspatial express route. The disaster is the catalyst for hero Arthur Dent’s surreal space travels.
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James Thrift, who also lives in Dorset, explained: “He was in his bedroom, where he would sit tearing his hair out trying to write, and he looked out of the window and saw an old glove factory being demolished by John Bond, a JCB digger-driver. That set his imagination racing and led to the destruction of Arthur Dent’s house and the demolition of Earth.
“In the days when he was typing you could hear the bang of the keys, then silence and profanity and tearing out of paper, and he would have George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord, and later Paul Simon’s One Trick Pony playing over and over.
“I remember after Hitchhiker had made it big when I was at school in Cirencester he turned up and took me out in a Porsche. He went from nothing to absolute superstar.”
Adams, a Cambridge graduate, was not only a humourist and technophile but a passionate environmental activist who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in a rhino suit to raise money for Save The Rhino International. Money raised from the exhibition will go to Save the Rhino.
Adams died in 2001, aged 49. His gentle humour is reflected in books such as The Meaning of Liff, in which he gave place names the definitions they sounded as though they deserved. The village of Henstridge, near Stalbridge was defined as: “The dried yellow substance found between the prongs of forks in restaurants.”
Sherborne Literary Festival runs from October 19-21. The Douglas Adams exhibition is at the Oliver Holt Gallery, throughout the festival. Simon Brett and John Lloyd talk about Hitchhiker at the Powell Theatre on October 21.