This article is from the Douglas Adams FAQ, by Nathan Hughes firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
It seems that the whole towel bit is taken from real life. Here's the
scoop from DNA in an interview from 1987:
'I was vacationing with friends in Greece some years back. Every
morning they'd have to sit around and wait for me because I
couldn't find my blessed towel. It seemed to epitomise my
disorganised state of being. I came to feel that someone really
together, one who was well organised, would always know where
his towel was. I thought of it as a Universal Truth.'
In the UK you might be able to get a video of a Dr Who episode (written by DNA)
called Shada. It was never completed, due to a strike at the BBC and
has been released with a copy of the original script and Tom Bakers
voiceovers to fill in the missing bits.
This contains a number of plot elements which later turned up in Dirk
Gently's HDA. A Professor Chronitis, a time machine which is an office
in a university, a certain joke, etc.
*Shada is no longer available from the BBS. You might still be able to
*get the video from CBS/FOX in the US. The UK release (but not the US one)
*included a copy of the script.
DGHDA also contains plot elements from the DOCTOR WHO story "City of
Death," which Douglas also wrote. That story is credited to "David Agnew,"
which is a pseudonym used on BBC programs where the writer's real name
isn't used. The script was originally started by David Fisher, who
couldn't finish it because of personal reasons. The story was available
on video, but has recently (12/95) been deleted - you might still find
copies lying about, however (BBCV4492, #10.99).
In the TV series, the house that was used for Arthur's residence is in
a town called Leatherhead in Surrey, near London.
The opening scene of "The Meaning of Life" by Monty Python has
the title "rock" changed from saying "Liff" to "Life" with a thunderbolt
obscuring the bottom of the 'E'. (If you're confused, watch "The
Meaning of Life". You should have seen it anyway.. *grin*) This has
absolutely NO relation to DNA's "The Meaning of Liff". Just another
one of those... hmm... meaningless coincidences.
According to Douglas, the little green blobby planet thing (nickamed
the "Cosmic Cutie") has been struck the final blow, and will not be
featured on any of the new (American) HHG books. Here's what Adams
had to say:
"I HATE the little green blob and have spent years locked in arguments
with my publishers with me trying to get rid of the obscene little thing.
I've finally secured its demise with the new Ballantine editons of the soft
Non-American readers are perhaps unaware of this book adornment, as it
was only the American publishing houses that determined that without a
consistent motif, all of us Yanks would become hopelessly confused by a
series of books with different names.
Ahh well. Farewell, green thing.