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Watership Down author denied special edition request
By Linda Serck
BBC Berkshire reporter

Watership Down series - The Whole World
Artist Aldo Galli has spent three years creating paintings for a new illustrated edition

Watership Down author Richard Adams says he is "very disappointed" that his request for a new illustrated edition has been denied by his UK publisher.

The world-famous children's book set in the Berkshire Downs, on the Hampshire-Berkshire border, is celebrating its 40th anniversary next year.

US publisher Scribner has commissioned an illustrated edition with new paintings by artist Aldo Galli.

However UK publisher Penguin has said such an edition is too expensive.

Fiver's Vision by Aldo Galli
Watership Down was published in 1972

Watership Down, first published in 1972, is still one of Penguin's best-selling books of all time with sales of more than 50 million copies.

Adams, 90, co-operated with Galli on a new set of paintings for the US anniversary illustrated edition, due for publication in 2012.

However, Penguin will not be publishing the same edition.

Adams said: "Penguin told us that an illustrated edition for the anniversary would be too expensive.

"They say a standard 40th anniversary edition will come out in due course, but that it will not be illustrated."

He added: "They are very good illustrations, they ought to be available to the public."

"Devastated"

Italian-born Galli said he has spent the last three years working on this project.

"I will be devastated if we don't succeed in bringing an illustrated edition of Watership Down to the UK for the 40th anniversary," he said.

Watership Down series - The Shining Wire
Aldo Galli was born in Italy and is part of the Whitchurch Arts forum

"Richard's work deserves to be celebrated and it will be most disappointing if it is not recognised in his own country, where the story belongs and was set.

He added: "The place itself has become famous worldwide thanks to Richard's novel, and yet the UK seems happy to wait for the Americans to do the job of producing a special illustrated edition for the 40th anniversary."

High print costs

Elv Moody, editorial director at Classic Puffin, the children's literature subsidiary of Penguin, said that new editions of Watership Down will be published next year, but not an illustrated version.

She said: "We're looking forward to the 40th anniversary of Watership Down and will be flagging the anniversary with new editions from both Puffin and Penguin in 2012.

"We didn't feel able to publish the colour edition, due to the high print costs of colour titles, but we're very conscious the project is close to Richard's heart and we're helping to ensure the Scribner edition will be available here too".

Fans of the book have been able to view Galli's paintings at golf course Sandford Springs, which is situated at the foot of the Berkshire Downs.

Adams penned Watership Down after telling his children a series of short stories on a long car journey.

He was born and raised in Wash Common, Berkshire, close to the Berkshire Downs. He now lives in Whitchurch, Hampshire.




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