Michael Morpurgo | British Youth Music Theatre

Our People

Michael Morpurgo


Born in 1943 Michael Morpurgo describes himself as 'oldish'. Married to Clare, father to three children and grandfather to six he has written over 100 titles for children over the course of his career.

After studying English and French at London University he took a job teaching primary school children and realised that the books on offer to them were sadly lacking in any real spark so he began to make up his own; something the children enjoyed so much so that this was what he decided he really wanted to do.

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

His most popular books include Why the Whales Came (1985), which was made into a film starring Helen Mirren; King of the Cloud Forests (1988), which won the Cercle D'Or Prix Sorciere (France); and My Friend Walter (1988) and Out of the Ashes (2001), which were both adapted for television. The Wreck of the Zanzibar (1995) won the 1995 Whitbread Children's Book Award.

The Butterfly Lion (1996) draws on the author's own unhappy experiences at boarding school, and is the story of a young boy who rescues an orphaned lion club from the African bush. It won the 1996 Nestle Smarties Book Prize (Gold Award). Kensuke's Kingdom (1999) tells the tale of a boy who survives on an island after falling from his parents' yacht and learns how to survive with the help of the mysterious Kensuke. This book won the Children's Book Award in 2000. Private Peaceful (2003) is set during the first world war and telling the story of two brothers, Charlie and Tommo. It won the 2005 Red House Children's Book Award and the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the 2004 Whitbread Children's Book Award.

In 2003 Michael Morpurgo became the third Children's Laureate, a scheme he had originally helped to set up with poet Ted Hughes. The Laureateship rewards a lifetime contribution to children's literature and highlights the importance of the role of children's books. Morpurgo firmly believes that "literature comes before literacy" and wants all children "to discover and rediscover the secret pleasure that is reading, and to begin to find their voice in their own writing".

Honoured with an MBE in 1999 then Children's Laureate from 2003-2005 and recipient of an OBE in 2006, Morpurgo is also a patron of countless charities, and in 1976 began, with his wife, the Farms For City Children charity which aims to relieve the experience of poverty in inner cities and urban areas by giving children the opportunity to live and work on a real farm for a week.

He has received critical acclaim for many of his books, nationally and internationally and counts Ted Hughes, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson as his favourite authors.