ADAMS, Richard

(1920 - 2016)
“Plot as such is not a major ingredient in my novels... it's often better to sail on the unconscious sea.”

Adams studied at Oxford, served in the Army during WWII and worked for the Civil Service, not becoming an author until he was in his 50s.  When driving his daughters to school one day they asked him to tell them a story – “I had been put on the spot and I started off, ‘Once there were two rabbits called Hazel and Fiver.’ And I just took it on from there.”  His daughters thought the story so good that they begged him to write it down, which he did during the evenings after work.  The result, Watership Down, is a beautifully written novel about a group of rabbits escaping from their doomed home, and won him both the Carnegie medal and the Guardian Children’ s Prize.  However it nearly didn't get published at all, as seven publishers all rejected it before a one-man publishing firm, Rex Collings, took it on, and even he had his doubts "I've just taken on a novel about rabbits, one of them with extra- sensory perception  … Do you think I'm mad?".  The book was received with rapturous reviews and quickly sold out.   The success of the book allowed Adams to become a full-time writer, and over the years he published a number of often animal-based fantasy stories and poems including Shardik,  Plague Dogs, and The Tyger Voyage. 

However it is his ability to write believably and without sentimentality of the quiet grief of a rabbit (“My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.” ) that has firmly based him in the world of great literature.

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 Richard ADAMS

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