Don't Panic! Celebrating Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

May 20, 2022 | Denise

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On May 11, 2001, beloved author Douglas Adams died suddenly from a heart attack. Two weeks later, his fans around the world marked his passing by carrying towels, a key symbol from Adams's most famous book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. With that, an annual tradition was born. In honour of Towel Day, now celebrated every year on May 25th, we have compiled some of our best Hitchhiker's items.

Cover image of The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams 

Of course, we have to begin with the book that started it all. It's an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and his best friend has just announced that he's an alien. At this moment, they're hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed with the big, friendly words: DON'T PANIC. 


The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy The Original Radio Scripts: Adams,  Douglas: 9780330419574: Books -

The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy : the original radio scripts

The radio production of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy first aired on BBC Radio 4 in 1978. It was later broadcast on NPR in the United States and CBC Radio in Canada. Our circulating copies of the radio show's scripts were published in 2003 in honour of the 25th anniversary. They included an updated introduction by Geoffrey Perkins, the former head of comedy at the BBC. You can also access reference copies of the original 1985 publication of the scripts at the Merril Collection and the Toronto Reference Library.


Cover image of The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy: The BBC TV adaptation

The BBC didn't stop at just a radio production of Hitchhiker's. In early 1981, BBC Two broadcast a television adaptation of the Guide starring Simon Jones and David Dixon. This special edition includes behind the scenes footage, bloopers, deleted scenes and interviews with Adams and the cast.


Cover image of The salmon of doubt : hitchhiking the galaxy one last time

The salmon of doubt : hitchhiking the galaxy one last time 

When Adams died suddenly, he left behind an unfinished novel, The Salmon of Doubt. That partial novel, along with writings from the 3000 files found on his hard drive, provide one last hilarious and poignant message from the author.


Cover image of And another thing-- : Douglas Adams's hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy : part six of three

And another thing-- : Douglas Adams's hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy : part six of three by Eoin Colfer

Dedicated fans will know that Adam's Hitchhiker series is a trilogy of five books. Yes, a trilogy normally has three books but that's just how Adams' rolls. And now there's a sixth in the trilogy. Author of the best-selling Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer picks up where Adams left off--and he left things on a pretty big cliffhanger!  


Movies You Watched in May 2019 | BoardGameGeek

The hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie

Before he was Bilbo Baggins or John Watson, beloved British actor Martin Freeman was Arthur Dent. Though it drew mixed responses from fans, this big screen adaptation introduced Adams's creation to a wider audience. And, of course, Marvin the Paranoid Android is voiced by the late great Alan Rickman!


The Illustrated Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy : Adams, Douglas: Books

The illustrated hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

This version of Adam's masterpiece was published in 1994 and contains beautiful, full colour illustrations. This is a reference only item and can be viewed at the Merril Collection.


Excerpt from Don't Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the  Galaxy | Penguin Random House Canada

Don't panic : Douglas Adams & the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy by Neil Gaiman

This official companion book was originally published by Neil Gaiman in 1986, and has been updated several times since. The most recent edition, published in 2009, includes insight into the movie adaptation, Eoin Colfer's sixth book and much more. You can also access the 2002 edition as an ebook. A reference copy of the 2003 version is available at the Merril Collection.


Hand holding a silver metal drinking can. The word Everything is printed diagonally across the can.
Toronto Public Library has its very own can of everything! Photo property of Toronto Public Library.

Can of Everything!

In 2021, the Merril Collection bought a first edition of Life, the Universe, and Everything. It came with this promotional "Everything" can!"


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has left it's mark well beyond just the world of science fiction writing. The series does provide the answer to the meaning of life after all!

I think I can speak for sci fi nerds everywhere when I say to Douglas Adams, "So long and thanks for all the fish."