Morpurgo to tell uncles' 'epic' war story in new book deal

Morpurgo to tell uncles' 'epic' war story in new book deal

Egmont Publishing has signed a new deal between Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Barroux based on the "epic", true story of Morpurgo’s uncles during World War Two.

In the Mouth of the Wolf follows two brothers; one an actor and airman and one a secret agent and teacher.

The publisher said: "As the shadow of one war lingers, and the rumbles of another approach, the brothers argue. Francis is a pacifist and conscientious objector, while Pieter signs up to fight. What happens next will change the course of Francis’ life forever . . . and throw him into the mouth of the wolf."

The book will feature 100 pieces of artwork from Barroux, including illustrations inspired by Morpurgo’s family photographs.

Egmont Publishing acquired World English Language rights (excluding USA, Canada and the Philippines) in Morpurgo’s text from Veronique Baxter at David Higham Associates and world rights in Barroux’s illustrations from Fraser Ross Associates.

The book "couples Morpurgo’s inimitable storytelling with Barroux’s stunning artwork to bring a fragment of World War Two to life and tell an incredible true story of courage and love", added the publisher.

Discussing the "most personal book" he has ever written, Morpurgo said that the story of his two uncles affected his life "profoundly" and that he felt the time had come to tell their story.

"My uncle Francis was a remarkable man, who led an extraordinary life", said Morpurgo. "He grew up in the 1930s, a pacifist, a conscientious objector, and went to war because his younger brother Pieter, an actor, had been killed in the RAF, aged 21. He felt he could no longer stay out of it. He died aged 90 in 2006, honoured in this country and in France, where he lived during his final years, and where he had fought with great distinction alongside the French resistance. The story of these two uncles affected my life profoundly. I felt the time had come to tell their story. It is, in a way, the most personal book I have ever written. This book may read like fiction. But it is not. That is because it does not need to be."

Ali Dougal, publishing director, added: "Michael Morpurgo writes about war like no other, and here he explores the true story of his own uncles in a war that brought people together and tore them apart. In the Mouth of the Wolf unites this master storyteller with acclaimed artist Barroux in a partnership of dreams that will enthrall generations of readers."

Morpurgo has written more than 40 books for children, including the global hit War Horse (Egmont), which was made into a Hollywood film by Steven Spielberg in 2011. He has won the Whitbread Award, the Smarties Award, the Circle of Gold Award, the Children's Book Award and has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal four times.

Born in Paris, Barroux spent much of his childhood in North Africa. He later attended art school in France. His book Where's the Elephant? (Egmont) was longlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2016. 

In the Mouth of the Wolf will publish in hardback on 3rd May 2018 at £12.99.