Richard Adams

Early Life

One of the brilliant English writers, Richard George Adams, was born on the 9th of May in 1920, in Berkshire, England. He was a bright son of Evelyn George Beadon Adams, a doctor by profession, while his mother, Lillian Rosa, was a homemaker. Richard was so keen on reading and writing from a very young age, and his literate parents guided him to hunt and polish his passion, leading him to carve a fascinating literary future for himself.


Although his parents taught him the basic rules of reading and writing at home, yet his formal education started at Horris Hill School, where he studied from 1926 to 1933. Later, he got admission to Bradfield College, followed by Worcester College, Oxford, where he studied modern history. During the same time, Richard was called up to render services in the British army. He joined the Royal Army Service Corps, where he worked as a brigade liaison. After leaving the post, he, once again, returned to studies and completed his degree in 1948. He also completed his master’s degree five years after this. Seeing his education as a way to progress, he re-joined the army but never let his writing passion suffer a decline. For this, he used to spend his leisure time drafting stories and other extracts.

Personal Life and Death

Regarding marriage, he seems blessed. He married Elizabeth, daughter of an army man, in 1949. Their union produced two beautiful daughters; Juliet and Rosamond. The lady remained faithful to him until his last breath and left his world on the 24th of December in 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 successfully pursued two careers in life; first, he became an army man and later emerged as a prestigious English writer. He began telling the story that would become his big hit, Watership Down, to his daughters on an exciting car trip. Captivated by their father’s creative mind, his daughters insisted on compiling his thoughts in a book form. Thus, he began writing in 1966, and after two years, the book made a great public appearance. The book instantly gained international acclaim, and over the next few years, sold over a million copies across the globe. With the publication of his subsequent work, Shardik, in 1974, he left his army job and became a full-time writer. His other notable publications include The Plague Dogs, The Girl in a SwingThe Legend of Te Tuna, and Tales from Watership Down.

His Style

Like many other authors, Richard Adams reflects his own life experiences and observations in his fiction, using simple and straightforward writing styles. For example, in Watership Down, he has created a world ahead of his time, this multi-layered book casts a singular shadow over children and adults alike. Successful use of epigraph and sensory details with the purpose to enhance the intended impacts of the book seems a unique literary tactic. To top it all, he has used animal imagery that speaks about his mythological and spiritual beliefs. He has often turned toward metaphors, imagery, symbolism, complex sentence structures, and strong vocabulary when using literary devices while major themes in his writings are violence and power, authoritarianism vs. democracy, religious beliefs, animal cruelty, immorality, and 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’s considerable legacy is an asset for the succeeding generations. In the shape of novels, short stories, and non-fictional pieces, this legacy has touched several hearts and made the world think about animal welfare as well as man’s role in the universe. Besides, his mythological and realistic writing approach has won praise from various writers, critics, and the world. His greatest impact on the future generation is the blurring of lines between adult novels and children’s fiction. The fictionalization of his ideas is executed in such a subtle manner that writers tend to seek guidance from his remarkable literary pieces even in this postmodern age.

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)