In the early 1970s, a fantasy novel about the life of rabbits in England became a bestseller on the literary lists: Watership Down by Richard Adams.
Inspired by his home in Hampshire, England and the writings of British naturalist Ronald Lockley in his book The Private Life of the Rabbit, Adams started telling stories to his daughters about local rabbits.
Encouraged by their devotion to the stories, Adams started to write down the tales, translating his struggles faced during WWII into how the rabbits would be struggling in their world. Adams created Lapine, a rabbit language used in the novel.
Rejected six times by publishers, Adams persisted and Watership Down was published in 1972.
The story rotates around Fiver, a runt rabbit who has extra-sensory perception, who sees into the future that the rabbit warren will be destroyed. With the help of his buddy Hazel, the rabbits flee the warren to find a new home, and face obstacles in their search for a safe new place with pals Bigwig and Silver.
Seen as an allegory, the novel focuses on the universal truths such as survival, struggle between tyranny and freedom and the rights of the individual versus the rights of a group.
Winning the Carnegie Medal in 1972 as the best children’s book of the year and the Guardian’s Children Book Prize, Adams book received rave reviews as well as became recognized as an important addition to British children’s literature.
In 1978, the book was adapted and made into an animated film – and its lasting effects has made the book one of the 100 best British children’s books of all time.