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British author Richard Adams, whose 1972 book "Watership Down" became a classic of children's literature, has died, according to his daughter.

A statement on a website devoted to the book, Watership Down Enterprises, said: "Richard's much-loved family announce with sadness that their dear father, grandfather, and great-grandfather passed away peacefully at 10pm on Christmas Eve".

Adams' Watership Down focused on a group of rabbits who must set out in search of a new home after the destruction of their warren, and the perils they encounter along the way.

The tale, first told by Adams on a long vehicle journey with his daughters, turned into a best-seller. Other works from the author included The Girl in a Swing, Shardik and The Plague Dogs. "They'll be alright - and thousands like them."' A movie version of Watership Down was released in 1978. He studied at Worcester College, Oxford, starting in 1938, enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps during World War II, and returned to complete his studies in modern history.

Adams dreamed up the elements of "Watership Down" while working as a civil servant and regaling Juliet and her sister, Rosamond, with stories about rabbits. "I'm 94. I've got to write or I wouldn't know what to do". It redefined anthropomorphic fiction. A 1978 animated film directed by Martin Rosen delivered a faithful adaptation of the novel and a new BBC mini-series is now in production, this time rendering the Watership Down rabbits in CGI. This ability was ultimately what led to Richard Adams winning both the Guardian's children prize, as well as the Carnegie medal. The animals were voiced by John Hurt, Ralph Richardson and Zero Mostel. Its graphic, apocalyptic scenes of impending doom traumatized young viewers.

Watership Down was also adapted into a musical and an animated television series. A further adaptation will be broadcast this year by the BBC and Netflix, starring James McAvoy and Ben Kingsley.

Adams was president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals from 1980-82.


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