Seven Stories is a most extraordinary achievement for the country and for Newcastle. It is our National Centre for Children’s Books created for the enjoyment and inspiration of children and adults, and it does this by embracing the whole children’s book world. It made sense to us that it should be the home for my stuff." - Michael Morpurgo.

The Writer

Michael Morpurgo is one of Britain’s greatest living authors for children.  His work spans 40 years and a career that has seen the publication of over 150 books for children, traversing wide-ranging topics that explore historical events, natural history and the environment, adventure and family life. Morpurgo is a true champion of children and young people’s culture, creativity and their right to read and enjoy stories. He was instrumental in setting up the Children’s Laureateship in 1997, and his services to children’s literature were recognised in 2006 when he was awarded an OBE.

Highlights from the Archive

•         Original handwritten drafts of some of Morpurgo’s best loved books, including Private Peaceful (2003, Harper Collins), Kensuke’s Kingdom (1999, Egmont) and The Butterfly Lion (1996, Harper Collins)

•         Material relating to the adaptation of War Horse (1982, Egmont) from book to stage to screen, including early drafts of a film adaptation from the 1990s

•         Research notes and drafts of Morpurgo’s many talks and lectures including his iconic Dimbleby lecture, ‘Set our Children Free’ (2011)

•         Manuscripts of unpublished early work

•         Typewritten manuscripts from Ted Hughes of the poems he wrote for All Around the Year (1979, John Murray Publishers), an early collaboration with Morpurgo

•         Notes and press cuttings about Morpurgo’s time at Sandhurst (1962-63) and a trip to India as a cadet in 1961 accompanying the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh

•         Photographs of Morpurgo’s early days in Devon, taken by rural life photographer James Ravilious

Creative Process

Michael considers himself a storyteller rather than a writer which is an idea which crops up in a lot of his books.  Included in the archive are piles of orange exercise books crammed with drafts for all of Michael's stories and ideas.   

Forthcoming Exhibition

Seven Stories will draw upon Michael’s extensive archive to make a brand new exhibition that will open on 1st July 2016.  The exhibition will explore Morpurgo’s storytelling and will celebrate the impact of his poignant tales on a nation of young readers. It is being supported through a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Seven Stories and Newcastle University’s School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics. The KTP is believed to be the first of its kind between a university English department and an external organisation, and is being funded by InnovateUK and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).


Read more from Dr Jessica Sage in her blog post on the Collection Blog.

Seven Stories was able to support the acquisition from Michael Morpurgo through support from Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Collecting Cultures’ programme, which has been awarded to Seven Stories in recognition of the museum’s national role in telling a comprehensive story of modern British children’s literature.