9 ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ quotes to celebrate Towel Day, 42 years since its release

  • The classic science-fiction series from Douglas Adams started life as a BBC radio show and has been adapted for movies and TV
  • Have you ever wondered what the meaning of life is? Simple; it’s 42
Dannie Aildasani |

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Happy Towel Day! This holiday is held in celebration of author Douglas Adams, perhaps most famous for his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. On this day, fans around the world carry a towel with them everywhere they go. This year is extra special because it’s been 42 years since the first novel was released - and as you’ll see, 42 is an important number in the Hitchhiker’s Guide universe.

Why a towel? Well, because according to the Hitchhiker’s Guide, it’s just about the most useful thing you can carry.

This beloved series began life as a radio show on BBC, and was later adapted for TV and film; the most recent movie was released in 2005.

A lot happens just in the first novel, so here’s a bit of background to bring you up to speed.

Take a look at this illustrated edition of “Hitchhiker’s Guide”

What you should know

One Thursday morning, ordinary English man Arthur Dent wakes up to discover his house is scheduled to be demolished in order to make way for a highway bypass. He initially tries to stop the bulldozers by laying down in front of them, but his friend, Ford Prefect, convinces him to go to the pub instead. It’s there that Ford reveals he’s an alien (from somewhere near the vicinity of the planet Betelgeuse) and journalist working on a guide book for the universe called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

And he’s got some bad news for Arthur.

Later that day, Earth is set to be destroyed by an alien race called the Vogons (who are not evil, by the way; they’re simply civil servants who strictly follow rules and write some of the worst poetry in the universe ), in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

Ford and Arthur escape Earth and board a Vogon ship, but are quickly thrown out. Thankfully, they are picked up by the newly-elected president of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox (who also happens to be Ford’s semi-cousin) who is travelling with his companion Trillian and a depressed robot named Marvin. They’re seeking the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and Arthur and Ford decide to join them on their quest. Thankfully, they’ve got their very useful guide book (which has the words ‘Don’t Panic’ helpfully printed on the cover) to assist them on their journey.

In honour of Towel Day, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite quotes from Hitchhiker’s Guide. Although the book was written in 1979, you can see that they’re still pretty on point today.

The YA science fiction books we’re looking forward to this year


“It’s an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem.”


“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”

“On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much – the wheel, New York, wars and so on – whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time.

But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man, for precisely the same reasons.”

The novel where time travel meets philosophy

Dolphins tried to warn people about the destruction of Earth

“The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards-somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ but in fact the message was this: ‘So long and thanks for all the fish.’”

Don’t trust everything you see

“Reality is frequently inaccurate.”

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”


The novel that combines sci-fi with the best of humanity

It was 42 all along

“The answer to the great question...of Life, the Universe and Everything ... is ... 42”

General good advice

“Don’t Panic.”

“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”

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