November 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Guest Post: Richard Adams Signs New Editions of His Classics

Guest Post by Catherine Batac Walder

Author Richard Adams, 94, delighted fans in a rare appearance at the book-signing of the new editions of his modern classics, Watership Down and Shardik, in Winchester, Hampshire (UK) on Saturday, November 15. These latest hardback editions are published by Oneworld.

Walder_Richard Adams 1.jpgThe signing lasted only an hour or so, and there was little chance for posed photography or a chat with the author. I realized later that one of his daughters, standing behind him, was helping him to understand what the fans were saying,  so I thought he mustn't have really heard me when I told him that I hope they would also republish The Girl in a Swing, which is my favorite among his books. He did return me a grin.

In a recent interview with The Telegraph, the author remarked, "I don't really live in the literary world. I mean, I ought to know them all but I don't. They don't know me very much. Real authors are continually meeting each other, aren't they?" Some of us, who have as high a regard for the freedom-fighting rabbits of Watership Down as we do for Peter or the Velveteen Rabbit, would disagree.

It is not an unfamiliar story of an author whose writing career began as spoken words to his children. In Adams' case, these were stories he had told to his young daughters during long drives to attend plays in Stratford-upon-Avon, hoping to expose them to Shakespeare's works. Encouraged to write the tales down, Adams, then in his early 50s, suffered several rejections before finally getting an offer from a small publisher. Watership Down went on to delight readers all over the world, selling over 50 million copies since its first publication in 1972. Shardik was published two years later.

The son of a doctor, Adams grew up in Berkshire and has been living with his wife Elizabeth in Whitchurch, Hampshire, for more than 30 years. Not surprisingly, the real Watership Down in Ecchinswell is only a few miles from their home.

--Catherine Batac Walder is a writer living in the UK.

Editor's Note: Blackwell's Oxford announced that it will host Adams for a book signing on Dec. 20 at 3:00.

Image Credit: Catherine Batac Walder.