I will be answering questions in approximately half an hour/an hour from now for as long as I can. My grandson will be helping me type up responses. Ask away!

http://imgur.com/3MtBtOU - Proof

EDIT : I'm tired now, and have answered as many questions as I could in the time. I'll see if I can come back to answer one or two more later on, but may not be able to. Thank you all so much for your friendship, and your enthusiasm about my books. If you want to read more about me take a look at "The Day Gone By" which is an autobiography of my earlier years, including my time in the army.

Link for those interested: LINK

Thank you again!

Comments: 1346 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

thndrchckn_901 karma

I loved Watership Down, I had my Dad read it to me as a kid and finished in on my own. It holds a special place for me as the first real book I read. Don't really have a question for you, but thank you for the great story!

Adamsrichard588 karma

It gives me such pleasure to hear this - thank you.

unmined361 karma

Wow ... Unexpected treat!

Mr. Adams, have you ever run across an interpretation of your work that was completely incorrect, or made you angry? I'm not referring necessarily to literary criticism, but to someone holding your work up as an example for (insert cause here).

Thank you so much for joining us.

Adamsrichard627 karma

The marxist interpretation of Watership Down makes me laugh sometimes!

Managore337 karma

Oh my Frith! Watership Down is one of my favourite books ever, and I have always recommended it as strongly as it is possible to do so. I even went as far as mapping out the journey on Google Earth, including every place of note. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

For anyone interested in the landmarks, first of all here is the location on Google Maps. Please note that the map provided in the book has North facing left. Here are some of the points of interest:

  • The Enborne, although hard to see via satellite, is the river the rabbits crossed early on in their journey.
  • Nuthanger Farm, where Hazel is captured and where from the dog is later released.
  • Efrafa. If this isn't the exact location it should be pretty close.
  • The bridge the rabbits travel under to avoid the train line.
  • The plank bridge near where the boat is found.
  • The bridge the rabbits travel under in the boat to escape the Efrafans.
  • Watership Down itself. There are walking tracks in the area that can be used to visit the down.

May I ask how you chose these locations? Did you know the area particularly well? Hopefully the locations I've given are all correct!

Edit: After some searching it seems as though this website does a more comprehensive job than I have, and includes a lot of photos from the ground as well.

Adamsrichard24 karma

My grandson has explained this to me, and it seems like you have pu tin a lot of work. A great achievment indeed. I chose the locations as I simply walked around those areas in my earlier days. I'm pleased there are so many people with such a love for my book. Thank you for your endeavours!

ThoughtYouGnu300 karma

Thanks for the AMA. Growing up I LOVED Watership Down. Thank you for writing it and why did you choose to have rabbits be the main characters?

Adamsrichard574 karma

I never know how to answer this question. The unconscious mind often works in ways the conscious mind cannot explain. Sorry!

TheCheshireCody283 karma

Safe to say Watership Down is your most famous work. Is it the one you would have chosen to be your "signature" piece?

Thanks for doing this. And for writing these amazing stories.

Adamsrichard418 karma

My personal favourite is Shardik, though I know Watership Down is the one people love best. Shardik is quite a dark book, but is still as relevant today as it ever was. The abuse of children is a terrible evil.

Aerron267 karma

How did you feel when Stephen King borrowed the bear from Shardik, turned him into a cyborg and incorporated it into The Dark Tower series?

Adamsrichard348 karma

I didn't know that. I suppose it's a compliment, but I'd have to see it to know.

JETPUNCH38 karma

I would love an answer to this.. I'm a huge fan of Mr. Adams, Mr. King, and The Dark Tower series!

Adamsrichard55 karma

Thank you

Kandarian103 karma

I hadn't heard of Shardik before today, but I love reading authors' favourite books! We nearly named our daughter Hazel after reading Watership Down.

Adamsrichard278 karma


unicornlover69199 karma

How do you feel about Martin Rosen's animated film adaption of Watership Down? Do you view it as a classic like many others, or as the author of the source material was there something different you would have done? Thanks for the wonderful hours of reading you gave me!

Adamsrichard328 karma

The film departs from the story which was a great shame to me. I felt it was a good effort, but virtually a different piece of work, probably because of the medium.

Tony_ze_horse149 karma

I have to say, that film gave me the worst nightmares when I watched it as a kid; especially the bits with all of the blood and whatnot.

Absolutely love the book though, so thank you very much for giving me both of those experiences!

volster60 karma

I'm sad to say i saw the film before reading the book as a child, and that it also scared the bejeezus out of me. For me, the issue wasn't so much the blood, but rather you're sat in the cinema, it's dark and you're effectively trapped in your seat by all the other people around you WHEN SUDDENLY this giant flying bunny of death appears and is coming right at you.

It took me quite a while to get over my aversion to death-bunny's, but a few years later i read the book and i still consider it one of my all-time favorites.

Tony_ze_horse21 karma

Ah yes, the good ol' giant demonic bunny of death! On the contrary to your point though, I'm actually quite glad I saw the film first since I doubt I would've read the book at all otherwise and, as you said, it's definitely an all-time favorite!

Innalibra20 karma

I don't even remember the bunny of death, but I vividly remember the death of lots of bunnies :(

I don't think I've ever felt as disturbed as when I watched that film.

Tony_ze_horse59 karma

Adamsrichard100 karma


Holyhugs194 karma

What inspired you to write Watership Down? It's one of the most psychologically real stories I've ever read, despite being told from the perspective of animals.

Adamsrichard435 karma

I told the story orally originally at bed time/ on the road to Stratford to my two little girls. The story began to prolong itself, and eventually it had hit the length of a medium-length book. At this point my daughter Juliet told me it was too good to waste, and that I should write it down. I thought it'd be hard to do, but the two little girls kept on at me, and at last I did agree to write the story down, and it was a long business indeed. It took 18 months until I was really satisfied there was a story there to make a book. Having written it down I took it to several publishers but it got rejected again and again. They felt the language was too grown up, yet the older children wouldn't like it because it was about rabbits!

One day I was reading the spectator, and read about a man who wrote a book regarding animals in the wild. At that point I thought the publisher might be interested. I sent it off and didn't hear from him, but soon after he replied and sad he loved the book and would like to draw up details about publishing the story.

SuperChester169 karma

Please settle an argument I've been having for years: Fiver...pronounced like the number "Five" with an R on the end? Or Fiver as in River?

Adamsrichard322 karma

Number five - like the slang for five pounds in the UK. That idiom doesn't carry over to the US, simply as you don't have the term five pounds. As the character progressed he was also born as the 5th in the litter, hence the number five.

joegee66158 karma

As a young boy I read Watership Down. It changed me. At the time I was going through difficulties at home. When I checked the book out of my middle school library I was hoping for an escape from the mundane evils that can befall a child. I never dreamed that in a story about rabbits I would find laughter, tears, sunshine, danger, safety, peril, and hard-fought triumph. It gave me perspective on the world around me and helped me keep my innocence alive for a few more years.

Today it's like a beloved coat that fits so well and warms so nicely that you can't wait for winter to come back around just so you can wear it again. I shall wear your world again soon. It's been too long.

Being able to thank you for this is a privilege I never expected to have. As to a question, are there any developments in current literature that you feel bode well for the future of storycraft? Are you watching any up-and-coming authors?

Adamsrichard109 karma

I'm delighted to hear this. Like many things that have an unexpected effect on society, Watership Down certainly did. The sympathy for rabbits and general wildlife who have no human protection rose. In fact all too often these animals are/were hunted for sport. Unexpected consequences of Watership Down is still an essay that could be written. I'm so glad it touched you personally.

CatastropheJohn140 karma

No question - just a big "thank you" from a fan.

Adamsrichard100 karma

Thank you - so lovely to hear this.

Sumiyoshi139 karma

What's your favourite novel?

Where did you draw your inspirations from?

What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

Adamsrichard238 karma

The three royal monkeys, by Walter de la Mare.

I drew inspirations primarily from my life - namely my love of nature, and the time I spent during the war.

Strawberry ice cream I would say.

Dumpsta121125 karma

Which character do you most identify with from Watership Down? I've always loved the dynamic between Blackberry and Dandelion.

Also, thank you so much for this story. It is the book I go back to time and time again.

Adamsrichard191 karma

I undoubtedly identify with Hazel, but I also have a high opinion of Dandelion. The fastest rabbit in the warren! Important as a rabbit. Hazel as the hero, and Dandelion as the most attractive character.

crusst107 karma

What do you think of Fall of Efrafa, if you're aware of them?

context: they're a post-metal concept band based around the themes and concepts conveyed in Watership Down.

Adamsrichard153 karma

Afraid I've never heard of them - not exactly my kind of thing, but I do wish them well.

Skin_Jump97 karma

Adamsrichard63 karma

Very rabbit-like, but also rather frightening no? Thank you for your support.

masturbatingmonkeys87 karma

Thanks for the AMA!

• What is one of the most shocking/interesting development you have witnessed in the world throughout your lifetime?

• What keeps you busy nowadays?

• What's your perspective on ebooks?

Adamsrichard190 karma

I'm still making up stories, reading and writing. I read anything I can find, spending at least 3 hours a day reading. I find this very stimulating for the imagination. I may publish another book but it may not be ready for some time. At the moment I am working on a story for small children, called Eggbox Dragon. As the name may suggest it is a dragon made of eggboxes. When he is crafted, he is painted, with a great red barb on the end of his tail. It suggests he may be poisonous. He has a magic power, but I'm not prepared to say more.

We were discussing ebooks at lunch today. In principle I think it is a good idea, but I believe the paper medium will never truly be replaced. Nothing feels better than having a good book in your hands.

RebelBelle82 karma

Wow! I wanted to ask about Plague Dogs. Watership Down made me cry but Plague Dogs was devastating! You reference man's indifference to animals in a few of your novels - is this just observation on your part or are you trying to highlight the plight of animals? Is this something you feel strongly about? Also, thanks for being a great author :)

Adamsrichard113 karma

Yes definitely. Nature is very close to me. The plight of animals is a terrible terrible thing in this world. A lot remains to be done. They're hunted for sport, don't have food and shelter and are generally mistreated all over the world. A country where all animals had their just dues. That really would be wonderful. I would do it if I had the time. I suppose it is up to the next generation.

canyonchaser49 karma

Plague Dogs is still one of my all time favorite books and I partially credit it with my intense love of dogs and thousands of hours volunteered to help rescue dogs.

Adamsrichard56 karma

They could do with it certainly. In countries abroad from me especially. Hot countries especially. Thank you for your kind words.

OneGreatSham80 karma

Maia. Oh, Maia is my favorite book. It taught me so much as I was growing up, about the importance of affiliation, and being strong, letting no one get past your barriers unless they were worth it...

What inspired you to take on this book? It's an epic, and my life would be sorely lacking had you not written it.

Adamsrichard90 karma

I don't think this book has really met with its just desserts. I am glad you like it. Maia has a number of unhappy love affairs, and these are stories in themselves. She is what some people might term promiscuous. But then so was Odysseus! She is not a heroine for everyone, but she represents the happiness of loving someone else - she really only has one LOVE affair, but it's sprouted different versions.

Salacious-78 karma

Did you have any books that you had planned to write, or wanted to write, but you never got around to it? What was it about?

Adamsrichard137 karma

I have two or three novels in my head, but I don't think at this point I'd like to set them out in detail. There are a lot of stories in my mind yet to be told.

DevonianAge67 karma

There's an essay by Ursula LeGuin that's extremely critical of Watership Down; I'm sure you've come across it. For those who haven't, her basic claim is that the book presents does as extremely passive members of the warren, and in doing so reinforces the mindless, passive, helpless role of women in traditional fantasy. She always assumed (as I did, as a kid) that yours was a more or less accurate fantasy-world transposition of real rabbit behavior, especially since you constantly referenced The Private Life of the Rabbit as source material. She says that when she finally got around to reading The Private Life of the Rabbit many years later she was shocked to discover that does played a much more active and interesting role in the life of the warren, and that therefore you must have made a deliberate decision to take them down a notch in the book. As a feminist and egalitarian, that bothered her a lot. And it bothers me too, since this was one of my favorite books as a kid. I literally wore out a copy and had to buy a new one.

Adamsrichard148 karma

The thing is that in the original story of Watership Down, it was simply told with no thought of reactions from the public. No idea it would be subjected to criticism as it has done. It was never an anti-feminist book, it was simply a spontaneous story, and I always felt it should be seen as such.


Is there anything you would change about Watership Down, something you weren't happy with looking back on it?

Adamsrichard111 karma

The only part of the story that continues to give me a bit of misgiving is the character of Woundwort. Woundwort is only somewhat an anti-hero in the book that is published, and I'm not entirely happy with that. If I could do it again I would give more attention to his character, making him an heroic anti-hero.

The question is whether he died being chased down by the dog, or whether he escaped and continued living his wild life in the English countryside. I would certainly like to resurrect him as a character.

Eatmyburgerband60 karma

Like a lot of people I don't have much of a question other than to say a gigantic thank you! I do have 3 questions though:

  1. Did El-ahrairah's ears ever grow back?
  2. Who would win in a fight between Rabscuttle and Bigwig, if it ever came to that?
  3. Do you ever go back to Watership down in Kingsclere?

Thanks again!

Adamsrichard96 karma

Yes, after some time.

I was originally going to make Bigwig die of his wounds after his terrible fight. My wife and children said I wasn't allowed to - he mustn't die! I think as such Rabscuttle would likely win the fight if it were ever told.

Yes, frequently. I live near there. It is the source location after all!

dalnorflying49 karma

Hello Mr. Adams, and most sincere thanks from an American 21 yr old whose favorite book has been Watership Down since I was a 10 yr old girl! My big question to you is: WHAT KIND OF ANIMAL IS KING DARZIN?

Adamsrichard55 karma

I always imagine him as a kind of beaver creature - gregarious, constructive (he and his associates have to construct things like dams to get fish for sustenance). They had no enemies, but they did have disputes among themselves. A gregarious animal, living in packs and living by constructing bridges and dams. Exploiting running water for their living

AubreyWatt36 karma

I cry every time I reread Watership Down. Silverweed's poem is pretty darn incredible, one of my favorite parts of the novel. Do you write much poetry yourself, like for fun?

Adamsrichard48 karma

I wrote a great deal when I was young. Not much now. But of course I wrote HIS poetry! Poor Silverweed was given divine inspiration by the Gods. But it cost him his life.

Rith35 karma

What is your favourite book that was published in the last ten years?

Adamsrichard64 karma

I'd say much of William Boyd. I'm a great admirer of his. However, there are so many works out there it's very difficult to say.

Queen_Gumby34 karma

Mr. Adams, I am a big fan! My mom introduced me to Watership Down and Plague Dogs at a very young age and I've read them countless times!

Who were your literary inspirations?

Who are your favorite current authors?

Edit: I just had to call my mom because she's a big fan but doesn't Reddit. She says that her question is a request for a WD sequel!

Thanks so much!

Adamsrichard71 karma

I value Shakespeare more highly than anybody or anything. Somebody said not long ago that there were 4 outstanding geniuses in all of time. Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare and (if he ever existed) Homer. Homer of who we know almost nothing. Those were great inspirations for me.

I have a very high opinion of many authors - it is so hard to recall different authors you've admired together. Alison Lurie is certainly one. I have answered similarly elsewhere though.

Abbacoverband31 karma

Mr. Adams! What a pleasure! Shardik rocked my world the first time I read it! Were you surprised to find yourself creeping up in the 2nd Dark Tower novel?

Adamsrichard29 karma

I answered the question above, but I'm afraid I didn't know. Like I said, I think it is a compliment of sorts, but I'd have to see it to know.

graffiti8129 karma

Were the Streels of Urtah in Shardik actually supernatural or was it just figments of Kelderek's imagination and myth? Or was that supposed to be left up to the reader to decide? (I ask because there was little in the book that really showed itself as supernatural or magical.)

The whole book seemed to me (as a staunch atheist) to lead the reader to question religion in general. From the initial belief that the bear was Shardik to the seeming luck of Shardik showing up in the end to save the children, it could have been divine providence or simply a bear being a bear. Was that the intention or was Shardik, in fact, supposed to be divine?

Adamsrichard45 karma

I always interpreted the streets as being quite real, not his imagination. However, it was always meant to be open to interpretation. Kelderek doesn't give the true story of Shardik, as it ought to be told, and I always felt that was significant.

Certainly the story is quite true that Shardik showed up to save the children. To bestow a quality of the divine is what some people do and what some people don't do. That would be of course a comparison with Christianity. Many people say Jesus was divine, and many do not. However, I personally feel Shardik was a divinely appointed character.

xanax_anaxa25 karma

It's been a long time since I read it, but I remember as a teenager reading The Plague Dogs and at the end, two characters discus the book Pincher Martin by William Golding. I later read Pincher Martin and it was one of the strangest, greatest books I've ever read. In fact, Pincher Martin became one of the books my friends and I read and passed around to others. It was the type of book where if you met someone else who knew about it you'd have a sort of instant bond over this weird obscure book.

What made you specifically call out this book in The Plague Dogs?

Adamsrichard26 karma

Pincher Martin is a very sad and terrible story. My memories of it are a bit hazy now though...

KYHY24 karma

Mr. Adams,

I am not sure when I read Watership Down for the first time. I just remember hating that it was over.

Flash forward many years, and I gave a copy to my oldest daughter for Christmas. She is autistic and she and I have always had trouble connecting, but she loved the book. Seeing this as an opportunity, I decided to look into more of your books. She and I have now read; Plague Dogs, Maia, Shardik, The Girl in the Swing, Voyage, and a few Watership Down continuations, I don't recall the name of right now. I am sure there are others, I just can't remember right now.

We are always looking for Richard Adams books, wherever we go. Used book stores, flea markets, Library sales. I have purchased most of them new as well, as gifts for her. But looking for your used books has become something fun for us to do.

My other three children will spot a used book store, and say "Oh great Dad and XXX are going to spend the next two hours looking for that rabbit guy!" (Half jokingly...) But they know how much it means to us, and will occasionally even help look. I would hate to guess how many Richard Adams books we have now. Obviously multiple copies of several. But I would guess there are 250 - 300 books total.

Anyhow, I am rambling. I was just excited to see your AMA, to have a chance to thank you. I hope you see this.

Your books have given me something to share with my daughter. It is a connection she shares with no one else, and it means the world to me. Thank You!

Adamsrichard6 karma

Thank you for your support of my work. So glad that you found a personal affect in it. Are any of your books signed?

notaFireTripper20 karma

I don't have a question but I did want to say thank you for writing one of my favorite books. I read it again each year and it is always enjoyable.

So, thanks!

Adamsrichard20 karma

Thank you!

rubystarfruit20 karma

Hi, Mr. Adams. My wife and I are both big fans of Watership Down. This is our dog, Hazel-rah. Everyone always assumes he's a girl because of the name, so we end up doing a lot of evangelizing about your novel by means of explaining. No question. Just wanted you to know how important your work is to us. So, thanks!

Adamsrichard17 karma

Beautiful animal. I'd like to get another dog.

spooz19 karma

Watership Down broke my heart. I hope you're happy.

Adamsrichard26 karma

I'm glad the book touched you. Hopefully in retrospect in a good way?

I am very happy - thank you for your kind words.

Gruntledgoat18 karma

Good Day sir! I was wondering two things; the first is how developed "Lapine" is. Did you work on it like Tolkien did for elvish? I was also wondering if you can tell us a bit about how Antarctica was?

Adamsrichard28 karma

Lapine just occurred really. The point was that as the story was told, certain things that hadn't got a word for them came up, so a word had to be invented to cover them, to mean what they meant. Owsla is a good example.

Antarctica was terribly dull really - the South Pole is just a lot of snow - no features. But I went because of my friendship with Ronald Lockley.

montereyo16 karma

Hi Mr. Adams, thanks so much for doing this!

There have been criticisms of Watership Down as being quite sexist (most famously by Ursula LeGuin). In the book the does are portrayed as passive, valued only for mating, in most cases are not even given names, while even many of the unimportant bucks have names.

What is your reaction to these critiques? If you were to write Watership Down today, would you portray the genders differently?

Adamsrichard36 karma

I answered this question elsewhere, but the key thing to note is that Watership Down was not initially intended to be a published novel. The story came about spontaneously as I told it to my children. It was never meant to be scrutinised as thoroughly as it has been.

betterly15 karma


Adamsrichard14 karma

Well, thank you.

WaitForItTheMongols15 karma

In the fifth grade, my teacher said each student needed to write a letter to their favorite author. I of course chose you. My letter never came back. Do you ever respond to fan mail?

Adamsrichard29 karma

I certainly do! Perhaps I never received it. My apologies.

Bloedman14 karma

Watership Down is hands down the book I remember reading the most as well as most often. A very proud moment for me as a parent was watching two of my daughters reading the book cover to cover.

Thank you so much for the memories!

Adamsrichard9 karma

My pleasure. Thank you!

aquawing8 karma

Hello, Mr. Adams! Thank you for doing this AMA today! I love Watership Down as well as Tales From Watership Down! I am also a big fan of the book that inspired it, The Private Life of the Rabbit by Ronald Lockley. What was it like working with Mr. Lockley and traveling through Antarctica with him? Also, have you ever had any rabbits as pets?

Adamsrichard9 karma

No rabbits as pets I'm afraid. I answered Antarctica elsewhere, but in brief, it is a very desolate landscape. Not a lot of anything.

cuddles6667 karma

I'm currently reading Traveller, and enjoying it a lot, but I just wanted to say that I had to stop and re-read, and re-read again, certains sections of Maia, if you know what I mean. Considering all of your books about animals what brought THAT book on?

Adamsrichard10 karma

See above! It is not understood by everyone. But thank you, I'm glad you like Traveller.

throwww66 karma

Hello there, thanks for doing this AMA! I had a question about movie Plague Dogs.

I enjoyed it very much, but the ending in the film differed from the book. The film ending (which implyed both dogs die at the end) was a lot darker than the book (where both were rescued, if I'm not mistaken).

I read that you had written the darker ending originally for the book, before you changed it. Can you give us some insight why you made this decision? And are you happy how the film turned out? Thanks!

Adamsrichard6 karma

The deaths of the dogs was always meant to be left open to the readers impression, but there was always meant to be an implication. In the book they are fished out the water by the children, but as you know one is unconscious and has to be revived by medical treatment.

Adamsrichard6 karma

If you read my book, the ending is deliberately ambivalent.

canyonchaser5 karma

Aww man, Plague Dogs is probably one of my all time favorite books. I read it while still in High School and I still think of it in my 40s. I partially credit it with my intense love of dogs and thousands of hours volunteered to help rescue dogs. And did anything inspire you to write it? I'd love some backstory if at all possible. :) Oh, and Thank you!!

Adamsrichard5 karma

Very sad though, isn't it?