'Watership Down' author Richard Adams dies, aged 96

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Adams told an interviewer that the book started out as a story he told his two young daughters during a long vehicle journey and it is dedicated to them.

A spokesman for Oneworld publications, which brought out a new edition of Watership Down with illustrations by Aldo Galli, said: "Very saddened to hear that Richard Adams has passed".

The author died peacefully on Christmas Eve.

Adams was born on May 9, 1920 and attended Horris Hill School before Bradfield College and then Worcester College.

That book wound up winning the Carnegie Medal for children's fiction in 1972, the year the novel was published.

Set in the English countryside, "Watership Down" tells the tale of a rabbit named Fiver who has a vision that the warren he inhabits with a group of other bunnies is facing destruction.

In his later life, he expressed regret that he had not realised his talent sooner, saying: "If I had known earlier how frightfully well I could write, I'd have started earlier".

That day, Adams made up the tale of the young rabbits escaping doom and later wrote it down for publishing.

He wrote what was to be his best-seller each night after work.

The former civil servant, who spent his childhood in Berkshire, penned the novel at the age of 52 after receiving encouragement from his children. Adams told the Independent newspaper in an interview in 2010. "Anybody who finds it enjoyable is welcome to read it, whether they're six or 66". This continued with The Plague Dogs, which explores animal rights.

Adams stumbled into a career as a writer.

The author's interest in animals extended beyond his literary works and he was president of the RSPCA from 1980 to 1982.

He stood for the British parliament in 1983 as an independent Conservative in the seat of Spelthorne, garnering 5.5 percent of the vote.

Until his death, he lived with his wife Elizabeth near his original birthplace.

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