Richard Adams

Early Life

Richard Adams or Richard George Adams, a renowned English writer, came into the world on May 9, 1920, in Berkshire, England. His father, Evelyn George Beadon Adams, was a doctor, and his mother, Lillian Rosa, took care of their home. From a tender age, Richard showed a deep interest in reading and writing. His parents, both well-educated, nurtured his passion and helped him develop his literary skills. This early guidance paved the way for a remarkable literary career.


Richard’s formal education began at Horris Hill School, where he attended from 1926 to 1933. He later continued his studies at Bradfield College and Worcester College, Oxford, focusing on modern history. During his time at Oxford, Richard was called to serve in the British army. He joined the Royal Army Service Corps and took on the role of a brigade liaison. Following his military service, he returned to his studies, successfully earning his degree in 1948. Five years later, he accomplished a master’s degree. Seeing education as a means of advancement, he re-enlisted in the army but remained dedicated to his passion for writing. During his leisure hours, he diligently penned stories and various literary works.

Personal Life and Death

In his personal life, Richard was fortunately in love. He wed Elizabeth, the daughter of a military man, in 1949. Their marriage brought two lovely daughters into the world, Juliet and Rosamond. Elizabeth remained a loyal companion throughout his life. Sadly, Richard’s journey came to an end on December 24, 2016.

Some Important Facts about Him

  1. He earned worldwide glory for one of the bestselling children’s books of all time, Watership Down.
  2. His remarkable work, Watership Down, won Mr. Adams the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Prize. It was adapted for a film in 1978.
  3. Mr. Adams enjoyed the headship of the RSCSP (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) from 1980–82.
  4. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Winchester in 2015.
  5. He served as a Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University and the University of Florida.

His Career

Richard Adams had a dual career path, first as a military man and then as a distinguished English writer. His literary journey started during a car trip with his daughters, where he began narrating the story that became Watership Down. His daughters were so captivated by their father’s creativity that they encouraged him to put his thoughts into a book. In 1966, he started writing the story, and within two years, it made a significant debut in the public eye. In just a short period, Watership Down gained rapid international recognition and managed to sell more than one million copies around the globe during the subsequent years. After the publication of Shardik in 1974, he made the decision to leave his military career behind and fully dedicate himself to writing. Among his other notable works are The Plague Dogs, The Girl in a Swing, The Legend of Te Tuna, and Tales from Watership Down.

His Style

Richard Adams, like many authors, weaves his life experiences and observations into his fiction, employing a simple and direct writing style. In works like Watership Down, he crafted a world that resonated with both children and adults, leaving a lasting impact. His unique literary approach includes the skillful use of epigraphs and vivid sensory details to amplify the book’s intended effects. Adams incorporates animal imagery that reflects his mythological and spiritual beliefs. He often employs metaphors, imagery, symbolism, complex sentence structures, and a rich vocabulary in his writing. Throughout his works, recurring themes revolve around subjects such as violence and power, the clash between authoritarianism and democracy, religious beliefs, animal welfare, morality, and the notions of home and belonging.

Some Important Works of Richards Adams

  • Best Novels: He was an outstanding literary figure. Some of his important works include Watership Down, The Plague Dogs, Shardik, The Ship’s Cat, The Girl in a Swing, Maia and Traveler.
  • Other Works: Besides writing novels, he produced other wonders too. Some of them include The Outlandish Knight, The Day Gone By, A Nature Diary, The Iron Wolf and Other Stories, Tales from Watership Down, Nature Day and Night, and Nature through the Seasons.

Richard Adams’s Impact on Future Literature

Richard Adams has left a valuable legacy that continues to influence future generations. Through his novels, short stories, and non-fiction works, he has touched the hearts of many and prompted contemplation about animal welfare and humanity’s place in the universe. His unique blend of mythological and realistic storytelling has earned admiration from writers, critics, and people worldwide. One of his most significant contributions to future literature is the way he blurred the distinction between adult novels and children’s fiction. His skill in fictionalizing complex ideas has subtly guided writers even in this postmodern era. Adams’ literary works remain a source of inspiration for generations to come.

Important Quotes

  1. “All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.” (Watership Down)
  2. “Animals don’t behave like men,’ he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill the kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.” (Watership Down)
  3. “Like the pain of a bad wound, the effect of a deep shock takes some while to be felt. When a child is told, for the first time in his life, that a person he has known is dead, although he does not disbelieve it, he may well fail to comprehend it and later ask–perhaps more than once–where the dead person is and when he is coming back.” (Watership Down)
  4. “Well,’ replied Tony, ‘I think [Christ’s] line would be the same as it always has been – that [sex without marriage] is understandable and forgivable, but wrong to the extent that it’s less than the best.” (The Girl in a Swing)