2016 claimed the lives of dozens of beloved celebrities, and the Black Rabbit finally came for 96-year-old Watership Down author Richard Adams on Dec. 27. Thankfully, as a writer, Richard Adams left behind many fantastic quotes and stories to remember him by, and I've got 11 great bites of writerly wisdom for you below.
Richard Adams was born on May 9, 1920 in Berkshire. He did not begin writing until 1966, when he began telling his young daughters the story of a rabbit warren during a road trip. After his children begged him to write down the tale, Adams spent years creating what would become his most famous novel, Watership Down, and its success would allow him to begin life as a full-time writer in 1974. Adams followed up with a sequel, Tales from Watership Down, in 1996.
Watership Down has been adapted numerous times since its publication in 1972. A 1978 animated film starring John Hurt and Nigel Hawthorne is arguably the most iconic Watership Down adaptation, and has been added to the Criterion Collection. An animated children's TV series ran in Canada and the U.K. from 1999 to 2001, and a new TV series from Netflix and the BBC is scheduled for release in 2017.
Check out some of Richard Adams' best quotes from Watership Down, Shardik, and more below, and share your favorites with me on Twitter.
"All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed."
— Frith in Watership Down
"[I]f I had known earlier how frightfully well I could write, I’d have started earlier."
— From an interview with The Telegraph, Nov. 8, 2014.
"Men will never rest till they've spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals."
— Holly in Watership Down
"[T]he sky will grow dark, cold rain will fall and all trace of the right way will be blotted out. You will be all alone. And still you will have to go on. There will be ghosts in the dark and voices in the air, disgusting prophecies coming true I wouldn’t wonder and absent faces present on every side, as the man said. And still you will have to go on. The last bridge will fall behind you and the last lights will go out, followed by the sun, the moon and the stars; and still you will have to go on. You will come to regions more desolate and wretched than you ever dreamed could exist, places of sorrow created entirely by that mean superstition which you yourself have put about for so long. But still you will have to go on."
— Elleroth in Shardik
"There is not a day or night but a doe offers her life for her kittens, or some honest captain of Owsla his life for his Chief Rabbit's. Sometimes it is taken, sometimes it is not. But there is no bargain, for here, what is, is what must be."
— The Black Rabbit in Watership Down
"A book is a book is a book, and you write what has got to be written to tell the story properly. I never consider the readers. I was allowed to read anything I liked when I was little and I liked all sorts of things that I shouldn’t have been reading. I stumbled upon frightening literature."
— From an interview with The Telegraph
"You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it's not that simple."
— Holly in Watership Down
"Some say that the Black Rabbit hates us and wants our destruction. But the truth is — or so they taught me — that he, too, serves Lord Frith and does no more than his appointed task."
— From "The Story of El-ahrairah and the Black Rabbit of Inlé" in Watership Down
"Dangerous thing, a name. Someone might catch hold of you by it, mightn't they? He can't afford a name — that's my guess. He hasn't got one. He's a wild animal."
— Rowf in The Plague Dogs
"There is nothing that cuts you down to size like coming to some strange and marvelous place where no one even stops to notice that you stare about you."
— Watership Down
"My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today."
— Hazel in Watership Down