Warhorse author Morpurgo gives ‘his horse’ his knighthood

Author and playwright Michael Morpurgo who has been awarded a Knighthood for services to literature and charity in the New Year Honours list. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Author and playwright Michael Morpurgo who has been awarded a Knighthood for services to literature and charity in the New Year Honours list. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
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“There was never a knight that has owed so much to his horse as this one”.

Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo said he will “give” his knighthood to the equine character Joey from his acclaimed story War Horse.

The 74-year-old has been awarded the title for his services to literature and charity in this year’s New Year Honours list.

He said: “I think in a way the only reason this wonderful honour has been given, it is for charity, but it is because, probably if I’m honest with myself, it is about one book. And it’s about one story and one play, the great good fortune of my writing life in terms of, I suppose, circumstance and bringing the kind of success you can’t dream of in terms of rewards and awards - it’s the play of War Horse”.

Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s book of the same name was adapted into the now world-famous play, which premiered at the National Theatre in 2007.

The play, which uses true-to-size horse puppets, is set during the outbreak of the First World War and documents the extraordinary friendship between a young boy named Albert, and his horse Joey.

In 2011 it was released on the big screen in a film directed by Steven Spielberg.

Morpurgo, a former school teacher who has written 130 books, also started the Farms for City Children charity together in 1976. The charity gives children the chance to experience farm life first-hand and there are three working farms to date.

The V&A Museum of Childhood has had a showcase of his manuscripts and notebooks on display since July.