Michael Morpurgo

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Michael Morpurgo
Michael Morpurgo 20090315 Salon du livre 1.jpg
Morpurgo at a book fair in Paris, March 2008
BornMichael Andrew Bridge
(1943-10-05) 5 October 1943 (age 70)
St Albans, Hertfordshire, England
Spouse(s)Clare Morpurgo

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Michael Morpurgo
Michael Morpurgo 20090315 Salon du livre 1.jpg
Morpurgo at a book fair in Paris, March 2008
BornMichael Andrew Bridge
(1943-10-05) 5 October 1943 (age 70)
St Albans, Hertfordshire, England
Spouse(s)Clare Morpurgo


Michael Morpurgo, OBE,[1] FKC, AKC, (born 5 October 1943) is an English author, poet, playwright and librettist who is known best for children's novels. From 2003 to 2005 he was the third British Children's Laureate.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in 1943, he attended schools in London, Sussex and Canterbury. He went on to King's College London, University of London to study English and French, followed by a step into the teaching profession and a job in a primary school in Kent. It was there that he discovered what he wished to do.

Morpurgo's biological father is actor Tony Van Bridge.[3] His mother, Kippe Cammaerts, who had been an actress, met Jack Morpurgo while Bridge was away during World War II. Morpurgo did not find out who his biological father was until he was 19,[4] when watching the 1962 film version of Great Expectations with his mother, in which Bridge appeared. Morpurgo has one older brother, Peter.

Michael Morpurgo was educated at schools in central London, Devon, Sussex and Kent; his unhappy experiences at boarding school would inform his novel The Butterfly Lion. He attended the independent prep school Mount House in Devon until he was 13.[citation needed] He then went to The King's School, an independent school in Canterbury. He later trained for the British Army at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He then took up a teaching job.[citation needed] He graduated with a 3rd class degree[5] in English and French from King's College London.

Life and career[edit]

From teaching to writing[edit]

Morpurgo's first job was as a primary school teacher. In his late twenties, while he was teaching, he discovered his talent for storytelling, of which he later said "I could see there was magic in it for them, and realized there was magic in it for me."[6]

His writing career was inspired by Ted Hughes' Poetry in the Making, Paul Gallico's The Snow Goose and Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.[7] Poets Seán Rafferty and Ted Hughes were influential in his career, with Hughes becoming a friend, mentor and neighbour.

In 2009, he donated the short story "Look At Me, I Need a Smile" to Oxfam's Ox-Tales project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Morpurgo's story was published in the "Water" collection.[8]

Morpurgo's work is noted for its "magical storytelling",[7] for recurring themes such as the triumph of an outsider or survival, for characters' relationships with nature, and for vivid settings such as the Cornish coast or World War I.

Farms for City Children[edit]

Michael married Clare, eldest daughter of Sir Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin Books.[9] In 1976, Michael and Clare established the charity Farms for City Children,[10] with the primary aim of providing children from inner city areas with experience of the countryside.[11] The programme involves the children spending a week at a countryside farm, during which they take part in purposeful farmyard work.[12]

About 85,000 children have taken part in the scheme since it was set up, and the charity now has three farms in Devon, Gloucestershire and Wales. In 1999 the couple were created Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of these services to youth. Morpurgo was later elevated to Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on 17 June 2006 for his services to literature.


Morpurgo is patron to the following charities: The Prince of Wales Art and Kids Foundation; What about the Children?; Montessori Education UK; Bag Books; The Unicorn Theatre; The Lincoln Book Festival; The Oundle Festival; The Works Theatre Company; The Down Syndrome Educational Trust; The Browning Society; English PEN, Readers and Writers; The Ambassador Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation; Kidzone Finland; and the Two Parishes Festival.

Michael Morpurgo is President of Book Trust

Children's Laureate[edit]

Morpurgo was involved in the development of the Children's Laureate role: "The idea for the Children's Laureate originated from a conversation between (the then) Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and children's writer Michael Morpurgo."[13] He was the third person to fill the two-year position, from 2003 to 2005.[2][14]


Morpurgo has worked with a number of illustrators, including Quentin Blake, Christian Birmingham, Emma Chichester Clark, Michael Foreman, Shoo Rayner, Tony Ross and Sarah Young.


Gentle Giant was presented as an opera by composer Stephen McNeff and librettist Mike Kenny at the Royal Opera House in 2006. Film versions have been made of Friend or Foe (1981), Private Peaceful (2012) and Why the Whales Came (1989), the latter also being adapted to a stage play. My Friend Walter (1988) 'Purple Penguins' (2000) and Out of the Ashes (2001) have been adapted for television.

War Horse has been adapted as a radio broadcast and as a stage play, premièring in South Bank, London, on 17 October 2007, with the horses played by life-sized horse puppets horses designed and built by the Handspring Puppet Company. The show transferred to the West End on 28 March 2009,[15] and on 15 March 2011, the show premiered on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.[16] War Horse was also adapted as a 2011 British film directed by Steven Spielberg.

Composer Stephen Barlow created a musical adaptation of Rainbow Bear, narrated by his wife Joanna Lumley. This was subsequently presented as a ballet by the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain in August 2010.

Reception and impact[edit]

Reading Matters calls Morpurgo's 1999 Kensuke's Kingdom "A quietly told story, but plenty of drama and emotion."[17]

Literary awards and prizes[edit]


Selected works[edit]

In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about Morpurgo, OCLC/WorldCat encompasses roughly 300+ works in 1,000+ publications in 25 languages and 55,000+ library holdings.[19] He is known primarily for the more than 120 books he has written.[14]

Radio and television broadcasts[edit]


Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 58014. p. 10. 17 June 2005.
  2. ^ a b "Michael Morpurgo". Children's Laureate (childrenslaureate.org.uk). Booktrust. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  3. ^ "Michael Morpurgo; Jean Webb". Michaelmorpurgo.org. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "How a horse changed my life". Www.saga.co.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Richard Dimbleby Lecture", BBC One. 15 February 2011, retrieved 17 April 2011.
  6. ^ "Michael Morpurgo, M.B.E.". www.harpercollins.co.uk. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Michael Morpurgo," Guardian (US). 22 July 2008, retrieved 17 April 2011.
  8. ^ "Ox- Tales,". Oxfam GB. retrieved 17 April 2011.
  9. ^ "Penguin, Puffin and the Paperback Revolution". BBC Four. 2 September 2010; retrieved 17 April 2011
  10. ^ Farms for City Children, Registered Charity no. 325120 at the Charity Commission
  11. ^ AdventureBox Books Interview on Farms for Children
  12. ^ Farms for City Children webpage
  13. ^ UK Children's Laureate, about the award
  14. ^ a b Lyall, Sarah. "Undaunted Author of ‘War Horse’ Reflects on Unlikely Hit". The New York Times. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
  15. ^ "'War Horse' Opens In The West End 3/28/09" broadwayworld.com, 8 December 2008
  16. ^ Hetrick, Adam (20 December 2010). "Seth Numrich to Lead 'War Horse' on Broadway; 35-Member Cast Announced". Playbill. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  17. ^ "Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo: book review". Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  18. ^ California Young Reader Medal (CYRM), 2008 Young Adult winners
  19. ^ WorldCat Identities: Morpurgo, Michael
  20. ^ London: Walker Books. ISBN 978-0-7445-8646-6
  21. ^ War: Stories of Conflict (2005). HarperCollins. ISBN 978-1-4050-4744-9
  22. ^ Newberry, Linda. "Running Wild by Michael Morpurgo," The Guardian (UK). 7 November 2009, 17 April 2011.
  23. ^ "The Kites Are Flying!" Walker Books, retrieved 17 April 2011.
  24. ^ Michael Morpurgo (May 2010). Not Bad for a Bad Lad. Templar Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84877-308-0. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  25. ^ Michael Morpurgo (1 October 2010). Shadow. HarperCollins Publishers Limited. ISBN 978-0-00-733960-0. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  26. ^ HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-733966-2
  27. ^ Walker Books. ISBN 978-1-4063-1511-0
  28. ^ London: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-746595-8
  29. ^ London: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-746592-7
  30. ^ London: Walker Books. ISBN 978-1-4063-3202-5
  31. ^ London: Templar Publishing. ISBN 9781848775442
  32. ^ a b c London: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-748751-6
  33. ^ London: Egmont. ISBN 978-1-4052-6896-7
  34. ^ BBC/OU Open2.net – The Invention of Childhood – Meet the presenter. Open2.net (21 August 2006). Retrieved 6 April 2011.
  35. ^ "Former Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo OBE calls for recognition of children's rights in BBC One's Richard Dimbleby Lecture". Press Office. BBC. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Anne Fine
Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Jacqueline Wilson