Michael Morpurgo: War Child to War Horse. by Maggie Fergusson

Michael Morpurgo: War Child to War Horse. by Maggie Fergusson

Maggie Fergusson

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0007387261

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The life of Michael Morpurgo, as a biography, and autobiographical stories. Michael Morpurgo is a national treasure. With books such as 'Private Peaceful', 'Kensuke's Kingdom' and 'The Wreck of the Zanzibar' he has enchanted a whole generation of children, weaving stories for them in a way that is neither contrived nor condescending. His is a rare gift. In 2007, Michael's novel 'War Horse' was adapted for the stage by the National Theatre. Five years on, it continues to play to packed audiences of all ages and has been turned into a blockbuster film by Steven Spielberg, propelling Morpurgo to household-name status. Michael's own story is as strange and surprising as any he has written, and is shot through with the same thread of sadness found in almost all his work. How did this supremely unbookish boy who dreamed of becoming an army officer become a bestselling author and Children's Laureate instead? What personal price has he paid for success? And why, amidst his triumphs, is he now haunted by regret? In a unique collaboration, Maggie Fergusson explores Michael Morpurgo's life through seven biographical chapters, to which he responds with seven stories. The portrait that emerges is one of light and shade: the light very bright, the shade complex and often painful.


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East Grinstead. But success in sports, and in the choir, earned Michael visits to the cinema, and even, on one never-to-be-forgotten occasion, a trip to the opera. Mr Gladstone, the most sympathetic of the three headmasters, drove the boys in his black Humber convertible, he and his wife, Kitty, in the front, Michael and two others in the back. They purred through the summer dusk, the Downs stretching before them. The memory remains magical. What did they wear for that outing? Such things

counties inspecting properties. But the market was against them; prices were rising steeply. And, as the months passed, both sides began to have misgivings about working together so closely. Even then, decades before he developed a public persona, Michael was, Judith remembers, a powerful and rather controlling character. Judith had always enjoyed working as part of a team. She began to suspect that Michael would not. Their plans and dreams might have petered out entirely had not fate, at this

Cuthbert’s, Philbeach Gardens: a cosy, eccentric set-up, where the lady in charge kept order by issuing the children with linoleum ‘islands’ on which they would be asked to sit if they threatened to become unruly. At five, he moved on to the local state primary school, St Matthias, across Warwick Road. It seemed a cavernous, grim place to a small boy, with painted brick walls as in a prison or hospital, and windows so high that if a child tried to look out all he could see were small segments of

farming community had ever forgotten how quickly the disease had spread when it struck in 1967, and how it had ravaged livestock all over the country. They packed their bags and drove straight home. Within days, the countryside was shutting down. The outbreak of the disease had been traced to a farm in Northumberland where pigs had been fed ‘untreated waste’, and the European Union announced a ban on all British exports of livestock, meat and animal products. In late February, foot-and-mouth was

– this was probably just a speculative enquiry. But then Spielberg came to London, saw the play, and invited Michael and Clare to lunch at Claridge’s. Sitting with him on sofas around a low table, sharing a Mexican salad so beautiful that Spielberg insisted on photographing it before they started to eat, it became clear that he was as keen as a hound that had picked up a scent. He questioned them closely about the First World War, about horses, about Devon. ‘For two and a half hours,’ Michael

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