“Despite being published as an adult book, Watership Down won the two most distinguished children’s book prizes, the Carnegie medal and the Guardian children’s book prize, … Watership Down was not just a book of its time; it is now firmly established as a classic and has sold more than 50m copies worldwide.
Adams spent approx. two years writing his manuscript from the spoken tales he made up to entertain his children while journeying. It was eventually published in 1972 after many rejections, apparently due to its length of over 200,000 words and perhaps also Adams’ ‘harsh vision’.
The story became immensely popular (in the UK) after the animated film version was released in 1978 with a cinema rating of ‘U’ – this has apparently been the cause of ongoing complaints and any re-release after 2016 will be uprated to a ‘PG’ [Parental Guidance, for upsetting scenes and containing ‘an expletive word’].
Richard Adams had previously served in the British military until 1946, graduated and achieved an M.A. in 1953, and worked for the British Civil Service until he devoted his professional life to writing from 1974 following the success of his first published book.