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Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories

Add Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories to your Itinerary


Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories


Castle Green


Tel: 01823 255088

A new family exhibition Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories will be open at the Museum of Somerset from 17 March to 7 July. Visitors can discover the life and works of one of Britain's best loved storytellers and the author of the inspirational hit of stage and screen War Horse.

The exhibition comes to the museum from Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, which is custodian of the Michael Morpurgo archive. Michael is one of Britain’s greatest living authors for children. In the 2018 New Year Honours list he was awarded a knighthood for his services to literature and charity. 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.

Visitor Services Manager Susie Simmons said: “Michael’s writing touches the hearts and minds of readers young and older. This playful exhibition is perfect for families to explore together to discover more about one of the most influential storytellers of our time.”

On display will be draft manuscripts, photographs, notebooks and correspondence that chronicle Michael’s creative process and writing career. Items include handwritten versions of War Horse showing how the story evolved from first draft to publication of the book, adaptation for the National Theatre and Steven Spielberg film script. Props from stage and film include a goose puppet, on loan from the National Theatre, a maquette of the Joey puppet and a First World War painting by war artist F.W. Reed that inspired War Horse.

A replica of Michael’s creative caravan will also be reconstructed so that visitors can imagine, daydream and write story ideas. The exhibition also includes an atmospheric soundscape to introduce the various themes in Michael’s storytelling – war, the countryside, farming and friendship. His writing style is inspired by real events: “Before you find a voice for a story, you have to find a voice as a writer. Before you find a voice as a writer there is something even more important – you have to find something to write about,” he said.

“It’s no good trying to write about what you don’t care about. You only find out what you care about when you discover what really motivates you to write. The more time you spend in “dream time”, living in your head where the story is, imagining how the people involved would feel – then you can lose yourself utterly in the story. That’s what I try to do.”

Additional exhibition highlights include:

A replica ship wrecked boat featured in Wreck of the Zanzibar (1995, Egmont).

A multi-sensory sculpture of Billy the Kid (2002, Harper Collins).

A playful under-5s area inspired by Mudpuddle Farm Series (Harper Collins) and It’s a Dog’s Life (2004, Egmont) with dress-up and props.

Artwork loaned from some of Britain’s greatest illustrators, including Sir Quentin Blake, Patrick Benson and Michael Foreman.

Original material showing handwritten drafts of Private Peaceful (2003 Harper Collins), Why the Whales Came (2011, Egmont) and Kensuke’s Kingdom (1999, Egmont).

References and CVs from Morpurgo’s time working as a teacher, plus documents from his time as an army cadet at Sandhurst.

The exhibition is supported by Arts Council England, Newcastle Culture Fund, Harper Collins Children’s Books, Egmont publishing and Walker Books.

The exhibition costs £2.50pp (age 8+). During May half-term (29, 30 and 31) there will be additional family fun activities taking place, inspired by Michael’s storytelling.

The Museum of Somerset is part of The South West Heritage Trust, an independent charity that protects and celebrates Somerset and Devon’s rich heritage.

Opening Times

Season (17 Mar 2018 - 7 Jul 2018)

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