Top children’s author inspires city’s budding storytellers: 20190207-142245-757281.jpg

19 Feb 2019

Top children’s author inspires city’s budding storytellers

Museums and galleries

One of the world’s most popular children’s authors has challenged children in Leeds to use their imaginations and create spectacular stories for a new competition.

Michael Morpurgo, whose novels including War Horse, Private Peaceful and The Butterfly Lion have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide, has called on the city’s young people to take inspiration from an exhibition at Leeds City Museum about his life and work and come up with their own amazing tales.

The museum wants budding writers aged 12 and under to write a short story based on an object or installation they’ve seen when visiting the exhibition.

That could include a spectacular model of War Horse, a replica of the shipwreck featured in Wreck of the Zanzibar or a real life unicorn. The writers of the best stories will be invited to the museum to have their photo taken and receive a goodie bag including some of Michael’s books and merchandise from the exhibition.

A selection of the best entries will also be displayed at the museum.

Former Children’s Laureate Michael said he hoped the exhibition would help fire the imaginations of young people and encourage them to create something personal and unique.

He said: “‘Try to write from the heart and live inside your story, try to hear and feel it all around you and become the characters. And don’t forget to live an interesting life, travel and meet people and drink in the world around you. This is what works for me.

“A Lifetime in Stories at the wonderful Leeds City Museum is just a glimpse into my dreamtime and some of the people, creatures and places that have inspired my stories. I hope you enjoy the exhibition and that it might help you to start out on your own writing journeys. Enjoy the journey! I have.”

Stories should be no more than 500 words and will be judged in two categories- writers aged five to nine and over 10s. Entries must include a full name, age, and contact details for a parent or guardian and should be emailed to by the closing date of March 31.

Entries should also include “Michael Morpurgo story contest” in the subject line and state which part of the exhibition they are inspired by.

Curated by Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books the Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories exhibition takes young people and families on a journey through a series of imaginative scenes themed around the author’s modern classics.

Visitors can see an imposing model of War Horse, step inside the Wreck of the Zanzibar, take a trip to Mudpuddle Farm or get up close to a real life unicorn.

Original manuscripts, notebooks and photographs are also on display along with a handwritten draft of War Horse.

References and CVs from Michael’s time as a teacher and documents from his time as an army cadet at Sandhurst will help connect the exhibition to the man behind the stories.

The exhibition follows Leeds City Museum being named the most family friendly museum in the country in the prestigious Kids in Museums awards.

Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories will be at Leeds City Museum, which is free to enter, from February 8 until June 16, 2019.

For more details about the exhibition, please visit:


Michael Morpurgo’s Top Tips for Writing

1.Live an interesting life. Meet people. Read a lot and widely, learn from the great writers.

2.Write just a little every day.

3.Settle on an idea that you care about, that you’re really passionate about, then research around it and dream it out in your mind. I don’t plan out the plot, rather let it emerge as I write.

4.When I write I try as far as possible to forget I’m writing it at all. I tell it down onto the page, as if I’m telling it to one person only, my best friend

5.Remember to write for yourself, not for a market and give yourself time to develop your own style, your own voice. It takes a lifetime. Enjoy it!


For media enquiries, please contact:

Stuart Robinson

Communications Officer

Leeds City Council

Tel: 0113 378 9182 (please note my new number)


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team