Dear Richard Adams,
When you passed away at the age of 96 on December 24, 2016, I knew I had to reread Watership Down.
40 some odd years ago, as a rabbit-obsessed girl, I loved the adventures of the rabbits of Watership Down. I had read Ronald Lockley’s The Private Life of the Rabbit and any other book on rabbits I could find, but here was a work of fiction that embodied the facts about rabbits that I had learned, plus it was really long - I adored long books.
But rereading your book, I discovered the humanity in it that the girl had missed 40 years ago. How does one deal with fear and trauma in one’s life? How does a community or society? You can deny the fear, create a delusion of perfection, become blind to reality. You can try to control the world around you, seek power and use violence and intimidation as part of that control, become a bully, instill fear in others to dispel your own. You can give into power, giving up your freedom for the illusion of escaping fear. Or, as our intrepid Watership Down rabbits, we discover that being brave, making friends, being kind, embracing diversity, being selfless, are the keys to confronting fear and the hate that comes with it.
You’ve left us a timeless lesson for every time. Thank you.