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Michael Morpugo

Michael Morpurgo was our author of the Autumn Term 2015

 

Michael Morpurgo is the author of many books for children, five of which have been made into films. He also writes his own screenplays and libretti for opera. Born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, in 1943, he was evacuated to Cumberland during the last years of the war, then returned to London, moving later to Essex.

 

After a brief and unsuccessful spell in the army, he took up teaching and started to write. He left teaching after ten years in order to set up 'Farms for City Children' with his wife. They have three farms in Devon, Wales and Gloucestershire, open to inner city school children who come to stay and work with the animals.

In 1999 this work was publicly recognised when he and his wife were awarded an MBE for services to youth. He is also a father and grandfather, so children have always played a large part in his life. Every year he and his family spend time in the Scilly Isles, the setting for three of his books.

 

Michael Morpurgo is, in his own words, “oldish, married with three children, and a grandfather six times over.” Born in 1943, he attended schools in London, Sussex and Canterbury. He went on to London University 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 wanted to do.

“We had to read the children a story every day and my lot were bored by the book I was reading. I decided I had to do something and told them the kind of story I used to tell my kids – it was like a soap opera, and they focused on it. I could see there was magic in it for them, and realised there was magic in it for me.”

 

In 1976 Michael and his wife, Clare, started the charity Farms For City Children (FFCC), which aims to relieve the poverty of experience of young children from inner city and urban areas by providing them with a week in which they work actively and purposefully on farms in the heart of the countryside. They now have three farms – Nethercott in Devon, Treginnis in Wales and Wick in Gloucestershire. “As a teacher I realised many children had little real contact with the world around them – to them the television was real. I wanted them to experience life at first hand.” In the last 30 years over, 50,000 children from cities and towns throughout the UK have spent a week of their lives living and working on one of the three farms.

Living in Devon, listening to Mozart, and working with children have provided most of the stimulae Michael needs to discover and write his stories. He spends about half his life mucking out sheds with the children, feeding sheep or milking cows; the other half he spends dreaming up and writing stories. “For me, the greater part of writing is daydreaming, dreaming the dream of my story until it hatches out – the writing down of it I always find hard. But I love finishing it, then holding the book in my hand and sharing my dream with my readers.”

 

Here are 15 facts about Michael Morpurgo.

  • Michael Morpurgo was born on 5th October 1943 in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
  • He has written over 100 books. Private Peaceful was his 100th title.
  • After graduating from university, Michael became a primary school teacher in Kent.
  • He writes all of his books in exercise books. He doesn’t work on a desk, instead he sits on his bed, propped up with pillows.
  • His favourite animals are elephants.
  • Some of his favourite authors include: Robert Louis Stevenson Rudyard Kipling and Ted Hughes.
  • He dislikes the process of editing and rewriting.
  • Michael Morpurgo enjoys watching TV. He particularly likes documentaries.
  • Michael set up the Farms for City Children project with his wife, Clare. It gives deprived urban children a chance to work on a farm and enjoy the benefits of being outdoors in the countryside.
  • Michael was given an OBE in 2006.
  • In 2003 he became the Children’s Laureate, becoming the third person to fulfill the role.
  • He has three children: Sebastian, Horatio and Rosalind, and several grandchildren.
  • He likes listening to Mozart, but he can only write in a silent room.
  • Michael loved French at school and he went on to study this subject at university.
  • He likes eating prawns.
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