First Edition of Richard Adams' Watership Down; Inscribed by Him To One of His Closest Friends Reg Sones and also With a Expository Letter
Item Number: 33075
London: Rex Collins, 1972.
First edition of the author’s classic first book. Octavo, original cloth. Inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, “To Reg Sones with gratitude and warm feelings Richard Adams November 1972.” Reg Sones was one of Richard Adams closest friends, who read and corrected the proofs of Watership Down. The two worked in the Civil Service together and would often play chess together on their lunch breaks. Following the dedication page (Adams dedicated this book to his two daughters), Reg Sones is mentioned first, “who read the book before publication and made valuable suggestions.” Also laid in is an autographed signed letter to Sones, which reads, “Monday 24th Dear Reg, Sorry for the delay. The demands of the promotional tour for “The Plague Dogs”, which began on 18th September and went on until 6th October, have been heavy. Then, after that, there was loads of correspondence, plus a dinner with Peter Ustinov at Birmingham on the 12th and a visit to Bristol University on the 17th. I’m just beginning to turn around. On Wed. the 2nd November I go to U.S.A. again. From 7th to 17th November I shall be at 12502 Fairhill Road, Cleveland 44120, Ohio. I could play the move after next from these. After that I go to Canada, from Vancouver to New Zealand and thence to Australia. Back on 10th December. All go, errit? But there’ll never be another “Watership Down,” will there? Happy days! Wish I was off to a chess match with you and Glyde, I really do! Yours ever Richard.” An outstanding association in one of the finest children’s books of the twentieth century, next to the dedication copy, the finest copy extant and with a telling letter in which Adams realizes the magic, that was created when he wrote Watership Down. Fine in a near fine dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box.
Although Watership Down was rejected by 13 publishers before Collings accepted it, it has never been out of print, and is Penguin Books' best-selling novel of all time. It won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize. The title refers to a hill in the north of Hampshire, England, near the area where Adams grew up. The story has its roots in the tales that Richard Adams made up for his young daughters during long car journeys. As he explained in 2007 in an interview with the BBC, he "began telling the story of the rabbits . . . improvised off the top of my head, as we were driving along." He based the struggles of the animals on the struggles he and his friends encountered during the Battle of Oosterbeek in 1944. The daughters insisted he write it down—"they were very, very persistent." After some delay he began writing in the evenings and completed it 18 months later.