War Horse author Michael Morpurgo marks Platinum Jubilee with new story read to Portsmouth schoolchildren - and is inspired by city school's name

A BEST-SELLING children’s author carried out a reading of his new book written to mark the Queen’s upcoming jubilee at a Portsmouth library – and has been inspired by a city school’s name that may appear in a future story.

By Richard Lemmer
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 4:21 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd May 2022, 4:22 pm

Michael Morpurgo, whose best-seller War Horse was turned into a smash West End play in 2007, enthralled children from St Jude's Church of England Primary School at a special event in Portsmouth Central Library this morning.

The celebrated author read from his latest book, There Once Is A Queen, a biography of the Queen written to commemorate her platinum jubilee.

Mr Morpurgo said: ‘What’s extraordinary is when I was asked to write this book I didn’t know what was going to happen but the publishers of this book decided to give 5,000 copies to every single library in the country.

Author Michael Morpurgo speaking to children from St Judes C of E Primary School about writing and poetry at the Central Library, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 230522-17)

‘Books should be available for everyone – that’s what’s wonderful doing this in a library with kids from a primary school down the road. And I was a primary school teacher myself – so it made me feel like I was 26 again.’

And the children attending were left keen to hunt out more books to read after the acclaimed writer revealed his inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson and Seamus Heaney.

Omari Moyo, aged nine, said: ‘My favourite part was Michael talking about what inspired him to start making his own books.’

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Author Michael Morpurgo speaking to children from St Judes C of E Primary School about writing and poetry at the Central Library, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 230522-16)

The reading was broadcast across the country thanks to students from the University of Portsmouth – and a question from a pupil at the Flying Bull Academy, in Flying Bull Lane, Buckland, caught the writer’s imagination.

The 78-year-old said: ‘I want whoever who wrote that question to write and tell me why their school is called Flying Bull because I’m really inclined to use the name of that school in a story, because I love it when names are very different. I’ve never ever heard of a school called Flying Bull Primary School.

‘You’re never never going to forget it – it caught my attention.’

Histories of the area suggest that Flying Bull Lane may have gained its name from a pub in the road and the use of bulls to test the first hot air balloons in the 18th century.