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The book began as an improvised story
We take a look at the area of Hampshire's North Downs famous for its breathtaking views & walks, and of course the famous tale of a small colony of rabbits.
The sloping chalky grassland which lies in the north of the county near Kingsclere is an Area of Natural Beauty.
The landscape has a rich picking of plant species including orchids. Woodlands offer food and shelter for birds and mammals and grasslands provide a valuable habitat for butterflies and rabbits.
Visiting Watership Down
The Downs are popular with Watership Down fans who visit the locations to picture the scenes in the much-loved story; with a great circular walk and cycle trail taking in the stunning views made famous by Hampshire-based author Richard Adams.
First published in 1972, the classic novel tells the tale of a group of rabbits, as they migrate to the Hampshire Downs to find a better place to live. Richard explains how it all started: "It came about in a rather funny, if not silly way.
"It was my habit to tell the children a story to while away the time. One afternoon we were going a fair distance and my little girls said to me. 'Now we want a completely original story daddy, and one that goes on a good long time'.
Author Richard Adams
"Clearly I was put on the spot and had to improvise something - I began quite at random. 'Once upon a time there were two rabbits, called Hazel and Fiver..."
It took two years to write the novel which follows Hazel, Fiver and Bigwig and others as they set out into the unknown on an epic and dangerous journey across the Downs in search of an idyllic warren.
His manuscript was then turned down by over a dozen publishers before being snapped up by a small independent company, Rex Collings.
Watership Down, the animated film
It was massively successful - instantly becoming a bestseller, and at one point holding the record for the highest sum paid for paperback rights.
It is considered by many to be a rather sad story, but that wasn't Richard's intention: "I had planned for the story to have a happy ending. It wasn't meant to be a sad story at all. If you read the last two paragraphs, you'll see that it's quite capable of being regarded as a happy ending."
The book was followed by a film Watership Down which came out in 1978, it was an animated adaptation of the book and included the hit single Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel.
Richard was born in 1920. After serving in the army, he worked as a civil servant for 25 years. He became a full-time writer in 1974 after the success of Watership Down and went on to write a further 10 books.
last updated: 09/12/2008 at 09:58