"Watership Down" author dies

Story highlights

  • Richard Adams died on Christmas Eve
  • "Watership Down" is an award-winning modern classic

(CNN)Richard Adams, author of the famous children's book "Watership Down," has died at the age of 96, his family said in a statement on his official website.

The beloved British legend of children's literature died on Christmas Eve, relatives said.
Adams began telling the story of "Watership Down," a dark and perilous adventure about rabbits looking for a new home, to his two daughters.
    They insisted he publish it as a book, his website explains.
    Published in 1972, it sold over one million copies in record time in the United Kingdom and the United States, became a modern classic and won a bevy of awards.
    The book also was adapted into a 1978 animated film.
    In its statement, the family referenced a moving section of the story involving Hazel, an important character in the book.
    "It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses.
    "You needn't worry about them," said his companion. "They'll be alright - and thousands like them."