Wednesday 21 February 2018

Obituary: Richard Adams

Author of 'Watership Down', written to entertain his daughters

BESTSELLER: Richard Adams with copies of ‘Watership
BESTSELLER: Richard Adams with copies of ‘Watership

Richard Adams, who died on Christmas Eve aged 96, was the author of Watership Down, the tale of a band of rabbits searching for a new home. His book became one of the publishing sensations of the 1970s and stands comparison with The Wind In The Willows and the Just So Stories as a classic of anthropomorphic writing.

The story grew out of those Adams (then a civil servant) told his two young daughters to ease long car journeys. The manuscript that evolved from these stories was rejected by four publishers and three literary agents before it was accepted in 1970 by the small firm of Rex Collings. It has since been translated into 20 languages and has sold more than 30m copies.

Although originally intended for children, the book proved equally captivating to an adult readership. Drawing on Ronald Lockley's study The Private Life of the Rabbit (1964), Adams underpinned his rabbit Aeneid with a complex bunny civilisation, complete with folklore and language, described by him as having a "wuffy, fluffy sound". But the writing was devoid of sentimental whimsy, and Adams did not shy from depicting nature red in tooth and claw.

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