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FILE - In this Oct. 18, 1978 file photo author Richard Adams poses for a photograph. The daughter of British author Richard Adams, whose 1972 book "Watership Down" became a classic of children's literature, says her father has died at age 96. Juliet Johnson told The Associated Press on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016 that Adams died on Christmas Eve. (PA Photo via AP)

Richard Adams, author of the classic book 'Watership Down,' died at 96


Richard Adams, the author of the classic novel "Watership Down," died Christmas Eve, his family announced Tuesday.

The English novelist and World War II veteran was 52 when his book was first published. "Watership Down" is the story of a group of rabbits looking for a new home. Adams gave his rabbit characters human-like attributes, a unique culture and even their own language.

The book eventually sold tens of millions of copies around the world, the BBC reports. The book is set to be adapted to TV in 2017. 

I assured him that he was much loved, that he had done great work, that many people loved his books.
Juliet Johnson, Adams' daughter

Adams wrote several other books, but none attracted the attention of "Watership Down," his first novel. The story started as a tale to occupy his kids' time on a road trip. He later wrote it down and spent years seeking a publisher. Many rejected it, since the sometimes violent rabbits in the story didn't fit the mold of being cute and cuddly, the BBC reports.

Watership Down - Holly's Memory of the Warren's Destruction

WATCH  | The book spawned a movie that was mostly remembered for being far too terrifying than its target audience of children.

Literature fans are devastated.

The book was a favorite for American readers, too.

Fan tributes referenced the rabbits' descriptions of death.

Richard Adams, author of the classic book 'Watership Down,' died at 96

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