By Douglas Adams, edited by Kevin Jon Davies

A publishing event: hundreds of artefacts from Douglas Adams' archive, printed for the first time

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Time is an illusion...

Apologies for the radio silence, but I’ve had some health issues to deal with, whilst working hard on this massively engaging project. A day-long meeting at Unbound’s offices near London Bridge a couple of weeks ago, with Judy Barratt, the technical editor, planning the layout of the book, has resulted in the most intense period delivering actual chapters to the publishers. I can really hear the whooshing of deadlines rushing towards me, spoken of so famously by Douglas.

St. John’s College, where Douglas’ archives are safely kept. 

Some weeks ago – a sunshine break outside St. John’s library.

The archive reveals some amazing insights into his development as a writer. His transition from eager student and Cambridge Footlights member, via revue days as a third of Adams-Smith-Adams, into early collaborations for broadcast radio and TV show such promise. He was lucky to get Jill Foster to represent him (and Adams-Smith-Adams) submitting their work to top TV shows of the day, like The Two Ronnies and Dave Allen At Large. Of course, there were dark days too, but it’s usually darker just before the dawn.

Some of the treasures: Doctor On The Go and The News Huddlines scripts.

There’s a lot to verify, with his diaries as an occasional place to check for dates of recordings and the people he met and places he visited. (For a time, 42 years ago, he was a frequent visitor to ‘Zanzibar’, which I’m assuming was a trendy bar in London, not somewhere off the coast of East Africa.)

Only a few titbits of each project, each period of his life, can make it into the book, there’s so much more to squeeze in! But I’m trying to make sure it’s only the best material – fascinating and funny and relevant to the overall story of the man and his work. Douglas’ early adventures, I’m sure you know, sweeps up influential people like John Cleese, and Graham Chapman, producers such as Simon Brett and Humphrey Barclay. The explosion of good fortune which began with ‘Doctor Who’ and the enormous success of ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ led to further associations with rock legends, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend and Pink Floyd. These associations are all represented in the book.

His enthusiasm for travelling the world, at first for book signing tours and then to visit endangered species and to write his favourite book ‘Last Chance To See’ means there are folders full of detailed travel plans, airline and hotel bookings, itineraries, even left over foreign currency.  But it’s the notes and rough drafts of chapters for this book and all the previous hilarious ones, which you’ll want to see and read.

I’m in deep now amongst this material, and swimming as fast as I can. There’s a long way to go in the normal processes of a complex illustrated coffee-table book like this. But it’s a relief to see it finally taking on real shape.

More soon,


Kevin Jon Davies

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Monica Lumsden
 Monica Lumsden says:

Please can we have an update on the deadline and when we can expect to receive the book..i have almost given up hope of ever seeing it.

posted 16th August 2022

Susanne Griffin
 Susanne Griffin says:

Appreciate how health issues have intervened and wishing Kevin continuing recovery, nonetheless it’s a good question from Monica: what is the likely timeframe for publication of 42? It would be helpful to know. Thank you.

posted 16th August 2022

Wilf Forrow
 Wilf Forrow says:

If it was on time, I don't think it would be a true reflection .... :-)
But it will be great to see it one day soon!

posted 16th August 2022

Tony Jones
 Tony Jones says:

Same here, while it's a noble effort, I'd quite like to see something for my money! Time's are tight

posted 16th August 2022

Leonie Smith
 Leonie Smith says:

Thanks for the update. Keep on plugging away at it, and remember: it wouldn't be an authentic Douglas Adams book if it arrived on (or before) a deadline!

posted 16th August 2022

Chris Randall
 Chris Randall says:

Thanks for a great update Kevin.
Happy swimming in Douglas's milieu.
Looking forward to enjoying this, *whenever* it's ready!

posted 16th August 2022

Chris Senior
 Chris Senior says:

Thanks for the update. This will be such an amazing piece of work to see, once you have pulled it all together. Remember to look after yourself in amongst all that work!

posted 16th August 2022

Michail Drakomathioulakis
 Michail Drakomathioulakis says:

I’ve already asked for a refund. However, Unbound refuses refunds, despite their policy clearly stating that refunds are possible when a project fails to deliver. And this project has failed…

posted 16th August 2022

Kim Jarvis
 Kim Jarvis says:

It will get here when it gets here. The project hasnt *failed* Michail, don't forget what the past couple of years have been like, and the fact that this book is not being put together by some big corporate publisher. I'd rather wait and get the best version of this endeavour than rush it.

posted 16th August 2022

John Keess
 John Keess says:

Very sorry to hear about your health issues. Thanks for the update!

posted 16th August 2022

Paul Christodoulou
 Paul Christodoulou says:

I really wish you well on this incredibly complicated work, however, just to help your investors, and following your recent meetings surely you must have some sort of deadline that you are aiming for to publish? This will at least help investors know so as not to harass you for a date. I must be honest and say I really didn’t expect it to be this long….?

posted 16th August 2022

Audrey Atkinson
 Audrey Atkinson says:

Hi, everyone,
The February update says the book will be published in 'the second-half of 2023.'
I believe you might be able to transfer your money to another book, but not sure.
I was captured by the Guardian article back in March 2021 but wouldn't have imagined it was going to take 2 1/2 years.
Has anyone ever got a response to their comments from Unbound? Nothing gets posted on here.....

posted 16th August 2022

Gina Bjorvig
 Gina Bjorvig says:

Thanks for the interesting update. It must be amazing to view the archives with your own 2 eyeballs. I'm happy to wait as long as it takes for this book to be finished to a high standard. I'd hate for it to be rushed and then badly structured and nonsensical. It's a book we are waiting for, not life saving medicine. People seem to forget what the last few years have been like and the restrictions than put on projects like this. Enjoy the creative process, Kevin!

posted 16th August 2022

Markus Wuttke
 Markus Wuttke says:

Thanks Kevin! Great update! Really looking forward to the part about the various Python members collaborations. All the best!!

posted 16th August 2022

Ben Poole
 Ben Poole says:

A lot of commenters don't seem to understand how pledge platforms work. It will get here when it's ready.

posted 16th August 2022

Lisa Quattromini
 Lisa Quattromini says:

Can't wait*

*but very obviously will wait like I would for all the best things :~)

Look after yourself!

posted 16th August 2022

Marije van den Berg
 Marije van den Berg says:

Looking forward to it! And don't let work on the book get in the way of your good health!

posted 16th August 2022

Alastair Monk
 Alastair Monk says:

I was also aware of the last mentioned publish date of "second half of 2023". Perhaps some comment on whether you are currently on track to meet this date would be helpful?

posted 16th August 2022

Chris Hill
 Chris Hill says:

Of course it would be nice if it was ‘almost finished’

But Covid and author’s illness…

My copy will - whenever - will be a present for my oldest grandchild

He appreciates HHGTTG - and much Radio 4 Extra comedy

I hope he will really like the book

At least he’ll have his name in it!

posted 16th August 2022

Tina Meldon
 Tina Meldon says:

Thanks for the update Kevin. I hope your health issues are properly sorted & you allow yourself time to recover properly before you go hell for leather trying to sort this book out. It might be an amazing book about Douglas Adams, but don't make yourself ill over it; we can wait! By their nature, Unbound Books take their own sweet time to get finished & that's what makes them special! Take care of yourself.

posted 16th August 2022

Brian Matthews
 Brian Matthews says:

Ben Poole Whatever the ins and outs of this type of funding, to have to wait more than 2.5 years and still to have no idea of timescale will put many off of crowdfunding in the future.

posted 16th August 2022

William Carleton
 William Carleton says:

I promise to have this book written for the folks pledging in a week, or I will pay Unbound $10,000 of my own money. I'm that confident I can get this done in 7 days, I'll do it on a typewriter.

Put me to the test. I said this same thing during the last update, which was months ago, and I'd argue not a single word is getting written here. These are the signs of complete and total writer's block, and the project is less put together than this little blurb I just wrote in three minutes. It's more in line with Douglas's spirit, because it's at least in the light of hilarious truth--nothing here is getting done and to think there are folks who are happy about this. Happy enough to send an update.

When you lie, you steal the truth from people. The truth is: nothing is getting done. And it hasn't been getting done for years now.

I'll get this book done in a week, and it will be quality. I've got access to most of Douglas Adams' published works and it's good enough to tap into his spirit and offer something worth publishing.

Or, you can just keep sending updates for the sake of...fluff.

Either way--thanks for the fish.

-William Vincent Carleton

posted 16th August 2022

Martin Vuijk
 Martin Vuijk says:

Thanks for the update. And take your time. I'd rather wait and get a book that's worthy of Douglas, than you caving in because of time-pressure and finish it in a hurry.
As we say in Holland: "Keulen en Aken zijn niet op een dag gebouwd" (Cologne and Aix-la-Chappele have not been built in one day)... and we're not even German.

Stay healthy, cheers, Martin

posted 16th August 2022

G Lofts clark
 G Lofts clark says:


Time may be an illusion but, sadly, am beginning to think that this book is another illusion and have long since dismissed all hope or expectation of actually seeing the completed version in my lifetime. Great shame because the project sounded fascinating but to do Douglas Adams true justice in any depth the finished article would have needed to be the size of an actual coffee table, so perhaps its as well to allow the whole thing residing in the lands of myths, dreams and legends?

That said, I wish you good health and hope you enjoy your endless research through the archives


posted 16th August 2022

G Lofts clark
 G Lofts clark says:


ZANZIBAR was indeed THE trendy and chic nightclub in London during the 1970's

posted 16th August 2022

Sacha Haworth
 Sacha Haworth says:

I understand that whole global pandemic thing, and lockdown, has played havoc with you and your publisher's schedules. I'm glad to hear that the layout drafts are done, and that the chapters are actually heading in to the publisher. Sorry to hear about your health issues, and hope that you are feeling better soon.

posted 16th August 2022

Stuart Walker
 Stuart Walker says:

Kevin, take your time, stay healthy and get it right. I could wait a decade for this. His loss to humanity was legion. His compassion and kindness were exemplars for all fellow humanists. This book is long overdue. Hope you get Stephen Fry onboard to help. Everyone, please remember, the deadline for this book is the very definition of a reciproversexcluson... :)

posted 16th August 2022

Benjamin Stephenson
 Benjamin Stephenson says:

Sorry to everyone who wants this book asap, but I'm perfectly content to wait for quality. This might be the one chance we get for someone to do something like this and I'd rather Kevin uncover every Doug nugget he possibly can. Keep going man, I BELIEVE IN YOU!

posted 16th August 2022

Mike Freed
 Mike Freed says:

Great update! Gets the Hitchhikers 'juices' going, with wistful tales of Zanzibar, quality books, archive goldmines, anticipation and great authors.
Happy to wait and wish you good health and progress.

posted 17th August 2022

Jack George-Turner
 Jack George-Turner says:

You selfish little people, no one forced you to pledge some money. This is not Waterstones or Amazon, this is not a finished product. You decided to fund this project in the hope that it would culminate in a book and now you're whining because the adult hasn't come back with your second marshmallow.

This is art not a burger.

posted 17th August 2022

King Kong
 King Kong says:

Thanks for the update, Kevin! Hang on in there - if it takes as long as a really worthwhile lunch break to get it over the line, then that's just what it takes! Cheers, Anthony

posted 17th August 2022

Tony Jones
 Tony Jones says:

I don't see what's selfish about being disappointed the book is still some way off and needing the money for other things. I can't believe the patronising / arrogance here and I suspect Douglas Adams would be embarrassed at some of the comments

posted 17th August 2022

Ian Malcolm
 Ian Malcolm says:

Take whatever time you need, Kevin, and I hope your recovery is swift and/or indeed already complete. The last couple of years have been hard for many people, and I am all too familiar with project delays due to events and whatnot entire outside my (or indeed anyone's) control. I know this book will be an absolute treasure, that I will, err, treasure for life; it's clearly a huge undertaking, but I am sure that it will be more than worth the wait. Let those deadlines whoosh, I say - Douglas would doubtless have thought it all quite apt.

posted 18th August 2022

Julie Gibson
 Julie Gibson says:

Had pledged ages ago, thinking this would be ready for my husband 50th birthday. So long ago that I had almost forgotten about it. The birthday is in 2 weeks. I'm sorry for your illness, and I wish you every good health.

I wish we in the NHS had the luxury of delaying our commitments to enable us to allow us too to recover and deliver the best we possibly can, sadly we don't.

posted 21st August 2022

Unbound Support
 Unbound Support says:

Hello all!

Unbound Support here to answer a few questions on this update. As the previous update stated, we are currently working towards publication in the second half of 2023. Due to the full closure of the archives for almost 2 years during the pandemic and the health of Kevin, as he stated here, he is once again able to be working away on the manuscript!

At Unbound we pride ourselves on delivering quality books and this does take time. We appreciate this can be frustrating but want to ensure the book is the very best it can be.

Thank you for all your support!

posted 25th August 2022

Alice Broadribb
 Alice Broadribb says:

To all the people concerned about the delays: yesterday I received my copy of an Unbound publication for which I had pledged four years and (just under) five months earlier. That was admittedly something of a record among my Unbound pledges, but over the years I've been pledging on Unbound I've learned that the writing, processing and publication of a book is not, as a general rule, a rapid process - even when the author hasn't had to contend with health issues both personal and global. The result, however, is usually worth the wait.

posted 27th August 2022

John Costello
 John Costello says:

Do you think that we'll have the finished book in our hands a year from now? Hoping this isn't like the Great Pumpkin from the "Peanuts" Halloween special or Bart Simpson going insane at Camp Krusty, believing "Krusty is coming!"

posted 27th September 2022

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