Watership Down Author Richard Adams Dead at 96

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Richard Adams
Photo: Ullstein Bild via Getty Images

Richard Adams, a decades-spanning English novelist best known for writing the seminal children’s adventure novel Watership Down, has died at the age of 96. His daughter confirmed the news to numerous British publications, saying that her father had been “ailing for some time” but “died peacefully” on Saturday evening. Besides the international recognition he received for penning the rabbit-centric Watership Down in 1972 — which, interestingly, stemmed from a tale he would tell his two children during long car rides — Adams was the author of numerous other works, which ranged in genre from child-friendly fantasy (Shardik, The Ship’s Cat) to adult-oriented historical fiction (Traveller) to follow-up short stories (Tales From Watership Down). Adams was in his early 50s when he penned Watership Down, and prior to that served in the Royal Army Service Corps as a brigade liaison during World War II; he slowly rose in the rankings of the British civil service, which culminated with a job writing government reports in the Department of the Environment. Additionally, he had a short stint as head of the animal welfare charity RSPCA. Adams is survived by his wife, Barbara Acland, and his two daughters, Juliet and Rosamond.