Michael Morpurgo joined students graduating yesterday at the University of Northampton’s Summer Ceremonies to receive an Honorary Doctorate. Presented by Dr Charles Bennett, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, Michael recieved the award at the Royal & Derngate and left the crowd in awe as he broke into song!
Michael began writing stories in the early 1970s, and he now travels internationally talking to children, telling his stories and encouraging them to tell theirs. As one of the UK’s best-loved authors and storytellers he was appointed Children’s Laureate in 2003. He has written over 120 books including War Horse, which was subsequently adapted for a successful stage production by the National Theatre and in 2011 for a film directed by Steven Spielberg.
Before receiving his Doctorate, Michael discussed his appreciation of Northampton and the way the town honours war hero Walter Tull; “Walter Tull is a great inspiration on leading a life of challenge,” he explained. “Northampton is the only place in the UK that honours this man’s achievements. He was truly one of our national heroes.”
Michael enjoys preforming live adaptations of his books, accompanied by folk musicians. Recently he joined the cast of War Horse on Broadway in New York. Music plays an important part in his life and Mozart has always been one of his heroes. As well The Mozart Question Michael has collaborated on over 25 books with the illustrator Michael Foreman, including retellings of Beowulf and Gawain and the Green Knight. He was awarded the OBE for his writing in 2006.
With his wife Clare he set up the charity, Farms for City Children, which offers inner-city primary schools the chance to live and work in the countryside for a week. Over 100,000 children have visited the three farms run by the charity since it began in 1976. The couple have been awarded MBEs for their work in education.
Steve Taylor, Deputy Dean for the School of the arts at the University of Northampton commented: “The Honorary Awards are given to influential men and women who have inspired others through the work they have done, Michael has done just that. His stories and charity work have helped children and adults alike.”