Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Colin's Little Known Facts: The Real Arthur Dent

Fans of “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” will know the name Arthur Dent. But did Douglas Adams invent the name?

The Hitch Hiker books (hilariously described by their author as “a trilogy in five parts”) involved an Everyman sort of character (Arthur Dent) and his adventures with his friend Ford Prefect (actually an alien who is a researcher for the Guide), after Earth is demolished to make way for an intergalactic freeway.

Douglas Adams lived at Brentwood in Essex. He would no doubt have, just like me, investigated the history and culture of this ancient county, and would have come up with the name Arthur Dent through his researches.

The original Arthur Dent was Rector at the parish church on Foulness Island. He wrote a book, once famous, entitled “The Plain Man’s Pathway to Heaven”.

John Bunyan read this book. In fact, it was one of only about five books that Bunyan ever read, others being the Holy Bible and “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”. Bunyan’s classic and brilliant “The Pilgrim’s Progress” was heavily influenced by Dent’s work.

Douglas Adams would have enjoyed the idea of Arthur Dent as a plain man, finding a pathway to Heaven.