War Horse author Michael Morpurgo receives Book Festival standing ovation

War Horse author Michael Morpurgo receives Book Festival standing ovation

Michael Morpurgo, author of the phenomenally successful War Horse, received a standing ovation from his sell-out audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this afternoon.

Michael was in Edinburgh to talk about his new memoir, Michael Morpurgo: War Child to War Horse, with co-author Maggie Fergusson.

During the event he said ‘I have plundered my own life for fiction to the extent that I am not quite sure if it is remembered memory, invented memory, or told memory – I have fogged the whole thing’.

The biography takes a unique form with seven chapters focusing on Morpurgo’s life written by Fergusson, each with a response from Morpurgo himself.

The children’s author told stories from his life including his foray into bell ringing at his local church, ‘I was always on the tenor bell, it is the one for people with no timing. I was on the second team for five years and never once on a Sunday did I make it to the first team.’

He also spoke about his time studying at University at Kings College, London, and subsequent teaching career, ‘When I hear Michael Gove say that all teachers should be those who got firsts or upper second class degrees, then I think ‘well, Philip Pullman and myself got thirds!’.

Aside from his writing, Morpurgo also founded and runs the Farms for City Children project with his wife Clare. The project, which has been going since 1976, aims to give children a week-long farming experience, where the kids participate in everything from milking cows to clearing out stables. He revealed his desire to open a farm somewhere in the Scottish borders asking the audience, ‘It is our dream to set up a place in the North. If anybody has a rich uncle with a thousand acre estate – and a mansion – do let me know!’

Morpurgo closed the event with a moving rendition of the song ‘Only Remembered’ from the stage play and movie of his bestselling book War Horse. Singing unaccompanied, Morpurgo invited the audience to join in before receiving a standing ovation. 

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