Devoted Dad Becomes Runaway Best-Selling Author at age 52!

The inspirational story of Watership Down writer, Richard Adams

Do you often wonder if your author ship has sailed, so to speak? Like, what if you’re just too old to write the book you’ve always imagined on the shelves at Barnes & Noble? Well, the good new is, many writers got their first crack at authorship in their later years, one we know of named Bertha Wood, on her 100th birthday! So, right out of the gates, I can tell you it’s not too late for you, regardless of which birthday you just celebrated.

Richard Adams, author of Watership Down, started on a very different path than writing. He enrolled in Oxford University, but had to put his education on hold when World War II called him to the Royal Army Service Corps. But after serving, he did go back to Oxford, and got a Bachelor’s degree in modern history. He took a job with the civil service, married, and had a family.

Years passed, and decided to start writing when he was about 46-years-old. While on a car trip with his daughters, he began telling them a story about a warren of rabbits. The girls enjoyed their father’s story-telling so much, they urged him to put it down on paper.

Then he got published. End of story, right? Not so fast!

Several publishing houses rejected the manuscript. Now before I go on to tell you about his success, think about that. Several publishers rejected Adams. Several. More than one. Lots. Many. I’m just thinking that I’d be saying to myself, “You’re 52 and aren’t getting published. What are you doing here? Maybe you were never meant to be a writer. But did Richard Adams quit? No way!

An independent publisher agreed to work with Adams, and the novel went on to receive rave reviews in Britain, even winning some prestigious awards. Then, in 1974 when the U.S. published it, Watership Down, as it came to be known, went on to be a runaway best seller.

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Watership Down has sold over 50 million copies, and has been adapted into two feature films, and a TV series, and is now considered a staple in English literature.

My favorite part of the story is that it began with a devoted dad, who, rather than tell his kids to sit still and be quiet on the car ride, created an entertaining story that made him a hero in their eyes, and now, one in ours as well. Adams died in 2016 at the ripe old age of 96, by then, knowing how significant a contribution he made to the world.