Michael Morpurgo A Lifetime in Stories

Exhibition on display until Sunday 2 July 2017

Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books introduces an exclusive exhibition drawn directly from Michael Morpurgo’s extensive archive donated to Seven Stories in 2015.  

Michael Morpurgo is one of Britain's best loved story makers and this unique exhibition showcases, for the first time, the notebooks and manuscripts that became the classics we know today including War Horse, Private Peaceful, Kensuke's Kingdom and Farm Boy

Explore the secrets behind Michael's storytelling through his original drafts, adaptations, scripts and unpublished manuscripts.  With content rich in historical research, creativity and poignant prose, this exhibition explores the processes behind some of the most loved titles in modern children's books.

Imagine, daydream and pen your own story ideas, inspired by Michael and his beloved Devon in a replica of Michael’s very own creative caravan. Surreally, vast amounts of orange school notebooks reveal themselves as an important place for Michael’s first ideas and drafts.  

The various and familiar themes in Michael’s story telling - war, the countryside and farming, the Scilly Isles and friendship - are explored throughout the exhibition using atmospheric soundscapes.

A handwritten draft of War Horse is on display for the first time, showing how the story evolved from first draft to publication of the book, to adaptation for the National Theatre and Steven Spielberg film scripts. Props from stage and film including a goose puppet, on loan from the National Theatre, a maquette of the Joey puppet and a World War I painting that inspired War Horse, by war artist F. W. Reed are also on show. 

Included in the exhibition will be artwork from some of the many illustrators who have contributed to Michael's books over his career which is now into its fiftieth year.  


Michael and his wife Clare Morpurgo established Farms for City Children at Nethercott House, Devon in 1976. The significance of rural life and connection with nature is a key theme in Michael's work and will be reflected in the exhibition.    


Knowledge Transfer Partnership

The exhibition is 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 Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and supported by InnovateUK.


Nine young people from Excelsior Academy worked with the Seven Stories learning team and local artist Ben Jeans Houghton as part of their Arts Award to create fictional artefacts and produce their own creative writing which will be included in the exhibition.  Find out more.


Michael's first book It Never Rained: Five Stories was published in 1974.  Michael 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 was the Children's Laureate from 2003 to 2005.  His services to children’s literature were recognised in 2006 when he was awarded an OBE. 

For more information visit the Michael Morpurgo website.

Find out more about the archive here. 


Everyone's talking about it...

Michael Morpurgo talks about his new exhibition opening at Seven Stories - The Chronicle, July 2016

Children's author Michael Morpurgo opts to donate his entire archive to Seven Stories - The Chronicle, October 2015

Michael Morpurgo archive yields unpublished books - BBC, October 2015

Join the conversation on social media #Morpurgo7S

Exhibition supported by: