Michael Morpurgo: War child to War Horse by Maggie Fergusson
I have read more than 20 of Michael Morpurgo’s books for children and every one of them is memorable. I started with the Wreck of the Zanzibar and recently read Private Peaceful, Running Wild, Elephant in the Garden, Shadow and War Horse.
There is always a touch of sadness about his books but his love for animals, the relationships he builds between the young and the old and the historical significance of his stories always impressed me.
But this biography challenged the way I had always thought Michael Morpurgo was and the life he must have led.
He was a sad and often lonely boy who lived with his brother Pieter, his theatrical mother Kippe and his passionless stepfather Jack. His connection with animals and farming only came after he was married with children and was involved with a project called Farming for City Children.
He was a private school boy who was average academically and he went to Sandhurst military Academy. He was friends with Ted Hughes, married the daughter of the founder of Penguin Books and was the third Children’s Laureate a position he helped to have recognised.
This insightful Biography is accompanied by seven original short stories about his response to each chapter. None is more prophetic than the last one. He had no time for fantasy and wanted to make children think and ask questions
Morpurgo says of his writing ” I write for the child inside myself that I still partly am”. That will do for me.
Senior secondary, young adult, and adult. One of the most important children’s writers ever.