Awarded an OBE in 2006, Michael Morpurgo is one of Britain's best loved writers for children. He has written over 100 books and won many prizes, including the Smarties Prize and the Whitbread Award. In 2005 he won the Blue Peter Book Award for his novel Private Peaceful, which was also adapted into an acclaimed stage play. His subsequent book, The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, spent an astonishing 20 weeks in the bestseller charts, and his enormous success has continued with his most recent novels, Alone on a Wide Wide Sea and Born to Run.
Michael was Children's Laureate from 2003 to 2005. The charity Farms for City Children, which he founded thirty years ago with his wife Clare, has now enabled over 60,000 children to spend a week living and working down on the farm.
Michael Morpurgo is, in his own words, "oldish, married with three children, and a grandfather six times over." After schools in London, Sussex and Canterbury (one of which was horrible enough to inspire him to describe it obliquely in The Butterfly Lion), he went on to London University to study English and French, followed by a job in a primary school in Kent. It was there that he discovered what he wanted to do.
"We had to read the children a story every day and my lot were bored by the book I was reading. I decided I had to do something and told them the kind of story I used to tell my kids - it was like a soap opera, and they focussed on it. I could see there was magic in it for them, and realised there was magic in it for me."
In 1976, Michael Morpurgo and his wife, Clare, started the charity Farms For City Children which aims to relieve the poverty of experience of young children from inner city areas by providing them with a week in which they work actively and purposefully on farms in the heart of the countryside. They now have three farms – Nethercott in Devon, Treginnis in Wales and Wick in Gloucestershire. "As a teacher I realised many children had little real contact with the world around them – to them the television was real. I wanted them to experience life at first hand."