Michael Morpurgo is an English author who writes fantastic books for children aged about 10-14 years. His most famous book is War Horse which has been made into a play and now a movie.
I had never heard of Michael Morpurgo or any of his books until my nephew, Riley, introduced me to them on a family holiday back in 2011. Riley was about to turn twelve at the time and he'd read quite a few of Michael's books so I asked him about them and he very kindly wrote brief reviews of his favourite ones for me.
Michael Morpurgo has written over 100 books for children, from picture books for younger children to novels aimed at young teenagers. If you'd like to read reviews of the books for older children - the ones that my nephew recommended and which I then went on to read myself - click here.
Michael Morpurgo was born on 5 October 1943 in St Alban's, Hertfordshire in England to Catherine (known as 'Kippe') and Tony Bridge. He was born while his father was away serving with the British Army during World War II and has an older brother, Pieter.
In 1945, while Tony was still away, Kippe met Jack Morpurgo who was also serving in the British Army. Jack was a forceful sort of man and he effectively bullied Kippe to divorce Tony and marry him, against her family's wishes. When Jack and Kippe married, Jack was determined to erase the boys' memories of their father and, although he never formally adopted the boys, Pieter and Michael took the name 'Morpurgo' in 1947.
To begin with, Pieter and Michael had some contact with their father however Tony eventually made the painful decision to cease all contact for his sons' sake and Michael and Pieter grew up regarding Jack as their father. Kippe and Jack had two children together, Mark and Kay, and Michael is clear that they are his brother and sister, rather than his step-brother and step-sister.
Michael lived in London when he was young and went to schools in London, Sussex and Canterbury. He was very unhappy at boarding school and used his experiences later when he was writing The Butterfly Lion. After leaving school, Michael went into the army, training at The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in Berkshire, but he quickly decided he did not like army life.
At around this time, Michael met Clare and they were married. Michael then went off to King's College in London where he studied English and French which led to his career as a teacher, initially at a primary school in Kent.
While he was teaching, Michael began telling his students the stories he'd made up for his own children. His students loved the stories and Michael loved telling them and it was then that he decided that he wanted to write stories for children. He has now written about 130 books, most of which were written on Nethercott, the farm in Devon where he and Clare live .
In 1976 Michael and Clare started a charity, Farms for City Children, which provides city children with a week working on farms in the country. Over 90,000 children from cities and towns throughout the UK have now spent a week of their lives living and working on one of the charity's three farms: Lower Treginnis Farm in Wales, Wick Court in Gloucestershire and Nethercott in Devon.
Michael and Clare ran the charity for 25 years and remain involved, though they no longer manage the day-to-day running of the programs.
In 2018, Michael and Clare have been married for 54 years. They have three children, Sebastian, Horatio and Rosalind, eight grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way.
Fergusson, M. (2012). Michael Morpurgo: War Child to War Horse. London, England: Fourth Estate.