“Some of the most important things in your life happen to you when you are very small.”
Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo is in conversation with Daniel Hahn at the Edinburgh Book Festival, discussing the anthology of stories, songs and writing about World War One he has edited, Only Remembered.
Born in 1943, Morpurgo’s early life was very much impacted by the aftermath of the Second World War, which led him to be drawn to the themes of conflict and tragedy which feature in many of his acclaimed works.
Discussing his books set during the First World War, Morpurgo is at pains to point out he is “not a historian” but instead “one individual responding to events which happened one hundred years ago.” Many other such responses are included in Only Remembered, which he then proceeds to read from.
With contributions from Carol Ann Duffy and Raymond Briggs, Morpurgo is moved by many of them, believing they carry a sense of optimism and show how important it is to “pass on the stories you grew up with” to future generations of younger readers. “The future is them,” he says. “Hope is invested in them – we are too close to Old Britain.”
Describing every book he writes as “a challenge”, Morpurgo describes how he likes to “see children wound up in a story” and how fiction is “like dreaming a dream when you’re awake.” He refers to the “sad truth” of children today being exposed to so much real-life violence on the news on television and online.
“All the more reason to write about it,” he says. “We learn through fiction.”