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  • Date of birth : 05/10/1943

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  • Morpurgo Michael

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Michael Morpurgo (1943)

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  Summary  

Michael Morpurgo, OBE FKC AKC is an English author, poet, playwright and librettist, best known for his work in children's literature. He was the third Children's Laureate.

  Biography  

 early life
Michael Andrew Bridge was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, in 1943, the son of Tony Bridge, an actor known professionally as Tony Van Bridge. Michael Andrew Bridges' stepfather, Jack Eric 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 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.

 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

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 in recognition of these services to youth. He was later elevated to Officer of the Order of the British Empire 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.

 Children's Laureate
Morpurgo was involved in the development of the Children's Laureate award: "The idea for the Children's Laureate originated from a conversation between 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.

 Illustrators
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.
 Adaptations
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 and When the Whales Came , the latter also being adapted to a stage play. My Friend Walter 'Purple Penguins' and Out of the Ashes have been adapted for television.

War Horse has been adapted as a radio broadcast and as a successful stage play, premièring in South Bank, London, on 17 October 2007, with the horses played by life-sized horse puppets horses designed and built by the Handspring Puppet Company. The show transferred to the West End on 28 March 2009, and on 15 March 2011, the show premiered on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. War Horse was also adapted as a 2011 British-American film directed by Steven Spielberg.

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.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Michael Morpurgo", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.