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File 004Michael Morpurgo, A Lifetime in Stories; an exhibition curated by Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books, Newcastle upon Tyne 2nd July 2016 - June 2017

This is a unique opportunity to visit this remarkable collection of notebooks, manuscripts and correspondence that have been part of Michael Morpurgo's story writing, life and dreams. The exhibition combines much of his life and ethos and is woven into an iconic display, on the fourth floor of Seven Stories.

Take your timeā€¦. This exhibition requires that you stop and dream a while, reminisce or ponder on the way Michael can find stories in places, wherever he is; stories from the past, stories of animals, children and people, from war time and in present day. He is a great story teller and story writer and the author of over 150 books for children, Children's Laureate and a voice for reason and peace.

This blog will take you on our journey through the exhibition and point you in some directions, we hope it will mean you also will have chance to make this journey one day over the next year. It's worth it!

Michael Morpurgo was born in 1943 and went to boarding school at seven, and eventually into military officer training at Sandhurst and then he became a teacher. He found the military life difficult and as a teacher he wanted to help children to be creative, give them opportunities, take them out into the world and fire their imaginations, tell stories. There was a clash between curriculum driven tasks and this approach. Later, with his wife Clare, they moved to Devon, where they developed the City Farm for children.

He became friends with Ted Hughes and learnt that as he said, "I have a story of my own to tell and a voice of my own with which to tell it."

Interesting quotes from the videos at the exhibition in the Dreamtime corner are;
"Live an interesting life. Fill your head with this world, of which you are part, care about it deeply, make up your mind to write about events, memories, conversations and something will emerge."

"Lose yourself in the story, get into it and go for it; know the people, the place, let the dreams in your head reach the pen on your page, tell it as if to your best friend, as a secret."

There are many orange notebooks in the exhibition, school notebooks filled with Michael's writing, thoughts, changes, crossings out and revision. He works and receives inspiration wherever he is, but his favourite place is his converted shepherds hut.

There are too many books to mention them all, but my favourites are; War Horse, which only sold a few thousand copies until it was made into a stage production and is now his most famous book, Farm Boy, the sequel to Joey the war horse, Why the Wales Came, set on Samson island in the Scillies, the Wreck of the Zanzibar, Alone on a Wide, Wide, Sea, The Dancing Bear and Waiting for Anya.

I will follow this blog with something more, there is a curiosity about the books, the man and his talents at finding the story and retelling in a wonderful style, which will mean further reading and an excuse to add more of his titles to our bookshelves.

A final quote,
"I know it, lying under the sun on a summer's night. I know it watching buzzards floating over the valley where I live. It is a learnt belonging from children who stop to gaze, to breath in the world about them, to feel part of it."

Michael Morpurgo, A Lifetime in Stories at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books, Newcastle upon Tyne. A digitised archive is available on 7 storieswww.sevenstories.org.uk/collection

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