RIP: Author Richard Adams dies at 96
Watership Down author Richard Adams dies aged 96
The author of Watership Down, Richard Adams, has died aged 96, his daughter has said.
The tear-jerking children's classic about a group of rabbits in search of a new home after the destruction of their warren was first published in 1972.
The tale, first told by Adams on a long car journey with his daughters, turned into a best-seller. Adams, from Newbury in Berkshire, also wrote Shardik, The Plague Dogs and The Girl in a Swing.
Watership Down won the Carnegie Medal for children's fiction in the year of publication. A statement on a website devoted to the book, Watership Down Enterprises, said: "Richard's much-loved family announce with sadness that their dear father, grandfather, and great-grandfather passed away peacefully at 10pm on Christmas Eve."
His death was marked with a passage from his best-known work.
"It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses.
"You needn't worry about them," said his companion. "They'll be alright - and thousands like them."'
Richard George Adams was born on 9 May 1920, in Newbury, Berkshire.
He was the son of a country doctor and was brought up in the rolling countryside with views towards the real Watership Down, on the Hampshire border.
One of his earliest memories was seeing a local man pushing a handcart full of dead rabbits down the street.
"It made me realise, in an instant, that rabbits were things and that it was only in a baby's world that they were not."
A film of Watership Down, first screened in 1978, was notoriously frightening for young children, with its adored rabbit characters killed in graphic scenes.
A new four-part CGI animated mini-series of the book is due to be aired outside the UK in 2017 on Netflix. It will feature the vocal talents of Sir Ben Kingsley, Olivia Colman and John Boyega.