Richard Adams

Best known as the author of Watership Down, Shardik and The Plague Dogs, English novelist Richard George Adams sadly died 24December 2016. Adams was born on 9 May 1920 in Wash Common near Newbury, Berkshire, England. He attended Horris Hill School from 1926 to 1933, and then Bradfield College from 1933 to 1938. In 1938, he went to Worcester College, Oxford, to read Modern History. In July 1940, Adams was called up to join the British Army. He was posted to the Royal Army Service Corps and was selected for the Airborne Company, where he worked as a brigade liaison. He served in Palestine, Europe and the Far East but saw no direct action against either the Germans or the Japanese.

After being demobbed in 1946, Adams returned to Worcester College to continue his studies for a further two years. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1948, proceeding MA in 1953.After his graduation in 1948, Adams joined the British Civil Service, rising to the rank of Assistant Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, later part of the Department of the Environment. It was during this period that he began writing fiction in his spare time.

He published his first novel Watership down in 1972 to much international acclaim. Adams had originally begun telling the story of Watership Down to his two daughters, and they insisted that he publish it as a book. It took two years to write. In 1972, after four publishers and three writers’ agencies had turned down the manuscript Rex Collings published the book which gained international acclaim almost immediately and sold over a million copies worldwide. Adams won both of the most prestigious British children’s book awards, one of six authors to do so: the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

In 1974, two years after Watership Down was published, Adams became a full-time author and published his second novel, Shardik, after which he left the Civil Service to become a full-time author. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1975. Adams also served as writer-in-residence at the University of Florida and Hollins University in Virginia. Adams won the inaugural Whitchurch Arts Award for inspiration in January 2010, presented at the Watership Down pub in Freefolk, Hampshire and In 2015 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Winchester.

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