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AHRC Knowledge Transfer Partnership enhances new Michael Morpurgo exhibition

An exhibition exploring the life and work of one of Britain’s best-loved children’s authors is being enhanced by an AHRC Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).

Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories is on show at Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle, before touring nationally.

The exhibition is based around Michael’s archive, which Newcastle University research associate Dr Jessica Medhurst has been working on, supervised by Dr Anne Whitehead and Dr Lucy Pearson from the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics. Dr Medhurst has helped to uncover hidden treasures in his archive, which was donated to Seven Stories last year, and her efforts have supported the curation of the exhibition.

The KTP – where businesses work with universities to innovate – is believed to be the first of its kind between a university English department and an external organisation.

Dr. Medhurst explains: “The Knowledge Transfer Partnership has presented the opportunity to experiment with the ways in which academic research can inform and contribute to a public exhibition. Looking at Michael’s archive with the needs of Seven Stories’ exhibition and visitors in mind has turned the idea of public engagement on its head – it has shaped the research agenda of the project rather than coming out of it.”

The exhibition showcases the original notebooks and manuscripts behind Michael’s stories, including Private Peaceful, Kensuke’s Kingdom and The Butterfly Lion. A handwritten draft of War Horse is on display for the first time, showing how the story evolved from first draft to publication of the book, to adaptation for the National Theatre and Steven Spielberg film scripts.

Michael Morpurgo, a former Children’s Laureate, said he was ‘enchanted and moved’ by the exhibition at Seven Stories. “There’s no other place in the country which understands the importance of literature for children as well as this place does.”

The KTP is funded by InnovateUK and the AHRC and is supported by the Arts Council England funded Vital North Partnership between Seven Stories and Newcastle University.

  • Image of Michael Morpurgo
    Michael Morpurgo about Michael Morpurgo
  • Image of War Horse
    War Horse about War Horse
  • Image of Kensuke's Kingdom
    Kensuke's Kingdom about Kensuke's Kingdom
  • Image of Michael and his illustrators
    Michael and his illustrators about Michael and his illustrators
  • Image of Original manuscripts
    Original manuscripts about Original manuscripts
  • Image of Michael's orange notebooks
    Michael's orange notebooks about Michael's orange notebooks
  • Image of Dream Time
    Dream Time about Dream Time