It's the birthday of writer Douglas Adams, (books by this author) born in Cambridge, England (1952), best known for his five-book "trilogy" The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a series of comic science fiction novels that sold more than 15 million copies, was translated into more than 30 languages, and inspired a cult-like following.
The idea for the first book came to Adams when he was backpacking through Europe at the age of 19, lying drunk in a field with his tour book called the Hitch-hiker's Guide to Europe, and lamenting the fact that he couldn't communicate with Austrians. He said it occurred to him right then that somebody ought to write a hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy.
He worked odd jobs for years, writing things on the side and having them rejected for publication, and was about to give up all hope of being a writer when in 1978 BBC radio accepted an outline of his hitchhiker story for a radio comedy. It's about an Englishman named Arthur Dent and his alien friend, Ford Prefect, who hitch a ride from Earth on a passing starship before the planet is destroyed by a band of bureaucratic aliens. He wrote 12 episodes for the radio series, which was a big hit, and soon afterward a publisher asked him to write it up as a book.
He said, "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."