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Devonshire anthology for Morpurgo
08.05.12 | Caroline Horn
Michael Morpurgo's publishers are building on his War Horse success with three new books planned for the coming year, as well as a film tie-in for Private Peaceful in the autumn. Morpurgo's sales are growing year on year, rising from £2.8m in 2009 to £3.8m in 2010 and £4.6m in 2011.
Morpurgo has collaborated with his wife, Clare, on their first book together, Where My Wellies Take Me, which will be published by Templar in September. It is based in the north Devonshire setting that has inspired many of Morpurgo's stories, including War Horse, Farm Boy and Private Peaceful, and where the Morpurgos have lived since the 1970s.
The book is described as "part poetry anthology, part child's scrapbook story". It will include novelties and illustrations by fine artist Olivia Lomenech Gill. Morpurgo said: "Where My Wellies Take Me is really Clare's story. As a girl, Clare would come down to Iddesleigh for her long summer holidays and stay with friends at the Duke of York pub in the village. She would spend her days wandering the lanes and fields of the remote Devon countryside and riding her horse Captain."
He added: "I wanted to do an anthology that was not just an anthology, but stories and poems woven together. I didn't know quite how to approach it until we met the artist, Olivia Lomenech Gill, at a very small book festival in Brittany. She agreed to illustrate the book and immersed herself in our village and got to know everyone.
"All the portraits in the book are of real people around us. The poems we chose were those we loved, or we loved the people who wrote them—Ted Hughes and Sean Rafferty were both from this area—or they were remembered poems that we grew up with."
Profits from sales of the book will go to a charity set up by the couple, Farms for City Children. Templar is planning television and newspaper features for its launch as well as store-based events, and will release a signed, limited edition of the book (r.r.p. £45).
A biography, Michael Morpurgo: War Child to War Horse by Maggie Fergusson (Fourth Estate) will publish next month, and will include biographical detail as well as short stories based on events from his life. Morpurgo will appear with Fergusson at a number of festivals, including Hay and Edinburgh, to talk about the book.
Fergusson's research into Morpurgo's family has also inspired Morpurgo's next novel, A Medal for Leroy, which will be published in October by HarperCollins. Fergusson found that the story of the death of Morpurgo's uncle Pieter‚ who was a pilot in the Second World War‚ wasn't the whole truth, and A Medal for Leroy is about the secrets that families keep.
The Private Peaceful film adaptation will be released in the autumn, and HarperCollins will publish the film tie-in on 2nd August. The screenplay is written by Michael Morpurgo and Simon Reade. Other films based on Morpurgo's books are also in the pipeline, including "The Mozart Question" and "Adolphus Tips".