Watership Down

by Adams, Richard

Watership Down is an allegorical fantasy novel written by British author Richard Adams, narrating the adventures of a small group of anthropomorphized rabbits as they escape the destruction of their homeland. The story is set in England’s Downs, an idyllic rural home to the small native creatures who possess their own cultures, languages, poetry and mythology. They are soon faced with the settlement of humanity and watch as their land is ravaged by farmland and industrialized commercial advancement. In fear of their lives they leave their homes in hope of finding safety for their family and friends, despite the temptations and perils they are forced to struggle with along the way.

First edition identification

MacMillan published the first Edition U.S. hardcover copy in 1972. Characterized by tan cloth binding and tan paper over boards, the spine and cover are stamped in gilt. 

The first UK edition was published by Rex Collings, London, in 1972. Characterized by brown cloth wrapping and folding map, as well as a yellow dust jacket.

Other Collectible or Notable Editions

Penguin Books published a first reprint of the edition in 1976 in London as a hardcover. The copy is illustrated in color and in monochrome, with a fold out colored map at the back. 

The Paradine Press published a Limited edition hardcover in London, 1976. The limited editions are part of a collection of 260 copies, 30 of which have an additional watercolor illustration by John Lawrence to the front free end-paper signed in initials by the artist. The binding (by Sangorski and Sutcliffe) is in sumptuous full crushed green morocco with marbled end-papers, raised bands, all edges gilt, with gilt rabbit motifs to the upper board, gilt corn and rabbit motifs and gilt title to the spine and numerous colored and black and white illustrations throughout by John Lawrence. This deluxe edition has a new fore-word on the genesis of the story by Richard Adams not published elsewhere.

Reviews

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On Dec 27, 2016, Anonymous said

After hearing of Richard Adams' death, I turned once again to a book I have long considered to be a best friend. This adventure story pulls you into a world unseen by humans. The characters are human enough to relate to but animal enough to remain rabbits. The story is captivating and relevant. No matter how many times I read it, I can never put it down while reading the last quarter, it's so suspenseful and exciting.

The characters have been beloved of me for many years and I only hope that I have Fiver's insight, Hazel's authority, Bigwig's strength, and Blackberry's wits.

Available Copies