Richard Adams, the author of ‘Watership Down’, has died

Adams penned the beloved children's classic in 1972

The author Richard Adams, who wrote Watership Down, has died.

Adams’ breakthrough adventure novel, which followed a group of rabbits in search of a new home, was published in 1972. It quickly became a best-seller and a British literary classic.

Adams, who was born in Newbury in May 1920, passed away on Christmas Eve, his daughter confirmed today (December 27). He was 96.

Watership Down won the Carnegie Medal for children’s fiction in 1972, and would later come alive again in the infamous animated film adaptation in 1978. There was also a subsequent television adaptation, which ran from 1999 to 2001.

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The site Watership Down Enterprises, which officially represents the book online, confirmed Adams’ passing in a statement.

“Richard’s much loved family announce with sadness that their dear father, grandfather, and great-grandfather passed away peacefully at 10pm on Christmas Eve,” the statement read. An extract from his most famous novel followed the statement.

‘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.”’

As well as Watership Down, Adams also penned the likes of Shadik (1974), The Plague Dogs (1977) and Maia (1984). His last published work, Gentle Footprints, was released in 2010.