Adams, author of “Watership Down,” dies at 96
Richard Adams, the English author who brought the rabbit world alive with the best-selling adventure novel “Watership Down” during the 1970s, has died. He was 96. He died Saturday. Adams’ first book sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and has remained in print since it was published in 1972. Initially rejected by several publishers, it was conceived as a story that Adams had told to his daughters, Juliet and Rosamond, on a long car trip. It won the Carnegie Medal and Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and led Adams into a writing career that included more than 20 titles. “Watership Down” also became an animated television series and film.
Set in the English countryside, “Watership Down” tells the tale of a rabbit named Fiver who has a vision that the warren he inhabits with a group of other bunnies is facing destruction. This leads a small group of them, including his brother Hazel, to search for a safer home before finding a peaceful place called Watership Down. New challenges arise and they are forced to ward off the perils posed by a rival warren.
Critics drew parallels to Homer’s “Odyssey” and Virgil’s “Aeneid” for its epic qualities and saw religious symbolism in the story line, although Adams rejected this.
“It’s only a made-up story,” he told the BBC in 2007. “I simply wrote down a story I told to my little girls.”
He wrote what was to be his best-seller each night after work. The manuscript was rejected by four publishers and three firms of agents who, according to Adams, said the writing style was “too ordinary for adults” and much too “grown up” to appeal to children. Adams told the Independent newspaper in 2010. “This is just a book. Anybody who finds it enjoyable is welcome to read it, whether they’re 6 or 66.”
Richard Adams wrote the beloved book “Watership Down” in 1972. Associated Press file