Michael Morpurgo, OBE FKC AKC (born 5 October 1943) is an English author, poet, playwright and librettist, best known for his work in children's literature. He was the third Children's Laureate.
Michael Andrew Bridge was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, in 1943, the son of Tony Bridge, an actor known professionally as Tony Van Bridge. His stepfather, Jack Morpurgo, was a writer and professor of literature at Leeds University. His great-grandmother was the soprano Marie Brema. His grandparents were Émile Cammaerts, a Belgian poet who also taught French at the girls' school, Queen's College, London from 1915 to 1931, and Tita Brand, an actress. His uncle, Francis Cammaerts, was a Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent with the French Resistance.
During the last years of World War II he was evacuated to Cumberland; he later moved back to London, and then on to Essex.
Morpurgo was educated at schools in London, Sussex and Canterbury (his unhappy experiences at boarding school would inform his novel The Butterfly Lion, one of his more famous works). Whilst at The King's School, an independent school in Canterbury, he was once described as being "rather stupid but great at rugby". He later trained for the British Army at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He managed to fight but went home after getting injured in action. He then took up a teaching career. He graduated with a 3rd class degree in English and French from King's College London.
Life and career
From teaching to writing
Morpurgo's first job was as a primary school teacher, in Kent. While he was teaching, in his late twenties, he discovered his talent for storytelling, stating "I could see there was magic in it for them, and realized there was magic in it for me." 
His writing career was inspired by Ted Hughes's Poetry in the Making, Paul Gallico's The Snow Goose and Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. 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.
Morpurgo's work is noted for its "magical storytelling", 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
Main article: Farms for City Children
In 1976, Michael and his wife, Clare, eldest daughter of Sir Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin Books, established the charity Farms for City Children, with the primary aim of providing children from inner city areas with experience of the countryside. The programme involves the children spending a week at a countryside farm, during which they take part in purposeful farmyard work.
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. He was later elevated to Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on 17 June 2006 for his services to literature.
Michael 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.
Morpurgo was involved in the development of the Children's Laureate award: "The idea for the Children's Laureate originated from a conversation between (the then) Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and children's writer Michael Morpurgo." He was the third person to become Children's Laureate and held the title from 2003 to 2005.
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) and When 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 both been adapted for television. War Horse has been adapted as a radio broadcast and as a successful stage play in the West End. 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.
Literary awards and prizes
In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about Michael Morpurgo, OCLC/WorldCat encompasses roughly 300+ works in 1,000+ publications in 25 languages and 55,000+ library holdings. He is known primarily for the more than 120 books he has written.
- It Never Rained: Five Stories (1974)
- Living Poets (compiler with Clifford Simmons) (1974)
- Long Way Home (1975)
- Thatcher Jones (1975)
- The Story-Teller (compiler with Graham Barrett) (1976)
- Friend or Foe (1977)
- Do All You Dare (1978)
- What Shall We Do with It? (1978)
- All Around the Year (with Ted Hughes) (1979)
- Love at First Sight (1979)
- That's How (1979)
- The Day I Took the Bull By the Horn (1979)
- The Ghost-Fish (1979)
- The Marble Crusher and Other Stories (1980)
- The Nine Lives of Montezuma (1980)
- Miss Wirtle's Revenge (1981)
- The White Horse of Zennor: And Other Stories from below the Eagle's Nest (1982)
- War Horse (1982)
- Twist of Gold (1983)
- Little Foxes (1984)
- Why the Whales Came (1985)
- Words of Songs (libretto, music by Phyllis Tate) (1985)
- Tom's Sausage Lion (1986)
- Conker (1987)
- Jo-Jo, the Melon Monkey (1987)
- King of the Cloud Forests (1988)
- Mossop's Last Chance (with Shoo Rayner) (1988)
- My Friend Walter (1988)
- Albertine, Goose Queen (with Shoo Rayner) (1989)
- Mr. Nobody's Eyes (1989)
- Jigger's Day Off (with Shoo Rayner) (1990)
- Waiting for Anya (1990)
- And Pigs Might Fly! (with Shoo Rayner) (1991)
- Colly's Barn (1991)
- The Sandman and the Turtles (1991)
- Martians at Mudpuddle Farm (with Shoo Rayner) (1992)
- The King in the Forest (1993)
- The War of Jenkins' Ear (1993)
- Arthur, High King of Britain (1994)
- Snakes and Ladders (1994)
- The Dancing Bear (1994)
- Blodin the Beast (1995)
- Mum's the Word (with Shoo Rayner) (1995)
- Stories from Mudpuddle Farm (with Shoo Rayner) (1995)
- The Wreck of the Zanzibar (1995)
- Robin of Sherwood (1996)
- Sam's Duck (1996)
- The Butterfly Lion (1996)
- The Ghost of Grania O'Malley (1996)
- Farm Boy (1997)
- Cockadoodle-doo, Mr Sultana! (1998)
- Escape from Shangri-La (1998)
- Joan of Arc (1998)
- Red Eyes at Night (1998)
- Wartman (1998)
- Kensuke's Kingdom (1999)
- The Rainbow Bear (1999)
- Wombat Goes Walkabout (1999)
- Billy the Kid (2000)
- Black Queen (2000)
- Dear Olly (2000)
- From Hereabout Hill (2000)
- The Silver Swan (2000)
- Who's a Big Bully Then? (2000)
- More Muck and Magic (2001)
- Out of the Ashes (2001)
- Toro! Toro! (2001)
- Cool! (2002)
- Mr. Skip (2002)
- The Last Wolf (2002)
- The Sleeping Sword (2002)
- Gentle Giant (2003)
- Private Peaceful (2003)
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2004)
- I Believe in Unicorns (2005)
- The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips (2005)
- War: Stories of Conflict (compiler) (2005)
- Albatross (2006)
- It's a Dog's Life (2006)
- Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea (2006)
- Beowulf (2006), illustrated by Michael Foreman
- Born to Run (2007)
- The Mozart Question (2007)
- Hansel and Gretel (2008)
- This Morning I Met a Whale (2008)
- Kaspar: Prince of Cats (2008)
- The Voices of Children (2008) (play)
- The Birthday Book (editor, with Quentin Blake) (2008)
- Running Wild (2009)
- The Kites Are Flying! (2009)
- An Elephant in the Garden (2010)
- Not Bad for a Bad Lad (2010)
- Shadow (2010)
- Little Manfred (2011)
Radio and television broadcasts
- ^ London Gazette: no. 58014. p. 10. 17 June 2006.
- ^ a b Gore-Langton, Robert. "Michael Morpurgo on his sequel to War Horse," Daily Telegraph (US). 27 Jul 2010, retrieved 2011-04-17.
- ^ Morpurgo, Michael. "The great oak in our family has fallen," The Guardian (UK). 5 August 2006, retrieved 2011-04-17
- ^ "Michael Morpurgo". Britishcouncil.org. http://literature.britishcouncil.org/michael-morpurgo. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
- ^ "Richard Dimbleby Lecture," BBC One. 15 February 2011, retrieved 2011-04-17.
- ^ "Michael Morpurgo, M.B.E.". www.harpercollins.co.uk. http://www.harpercollins.co.uk/Authors/4121/michael-morpurgo. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
- ^ a b "Michael Morpurgo," Guardian (US). 22 July 2008, retrieved 2011-04-17.
- ^ "Ox- Tales,". Oxfam GB. retrieved 2011-04-17.
- ^ "Penguin, Puffin and the Paperback Revolution". BBC Four. 2 September 2010; retrieved 2011-04-17
- ^ Farms for City Children, Registered Charity no. 325120 at the Charity Commission
- ^ AdventureBox Books Interview on Farms for Children
- ^ Farms for City Children webpage
- ^ UK Children's Laureate, about the award
- ^ a b Lyall, Sarah. "Undaunted Author of ‘War Horse’ Reflects on Unlikely Hit," New York Times (US). April 12, 2011, retrieved 2011-04-17.
- ^ California Young Reader Medal (CYRM), 2008 Young Adult winners
- ^ WorldCat Identities: Morpurgo, Michael
- ^ War: Stories of Conflict (2005). HarperCollins. ISBN 9781405047449
- ^ Newberry, Linda. "Running Wild by Michael Morpurgo," The Guardian (UK). 7 November 2009, 2011-04-17.
- ^ "The Kites Are Flying!" Walker Books, retrieved on 2011-04-17.
- ^ Michael Morpurgo (May 2010). Not Bad for a Bad Lad. Templar Publishing. ISBN 9781848773080. http://books.google.com/books?id=0S4kQwAACAAJ. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- ^ Michael Morpurgo (1 October 2010). Shadow. HarperCollins Publishers Limited. ISBN 9780007339600. http://books.google.com/books?id=7bZgRwAACAAJ. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- ^ HarperCollins. ISBN 9780007339662
- ^ BBC/OU Open2.net – The Invention of Childhood – Meet the presenter. Open2.net (2006-08-21). Retrieved on 2011-04-06.
- ^ "Former Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo OBE calls for recognition of children's rights in BBC One's Richard Dimbleby Lecture". Press Office. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2011/02_february/15/dimbleby.shtml. Retrieved 2011-02-15.