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Michael Morpurgo on The Home Front

Michael Morpurgo and Balmullo schoolchildren
Michael Morpurgo (centre) with (from left to right) Paddy Thaw, Freya Nicol, Aaron Stewart, Rebekah Lennon, Sasha North and Kyle Thaw from Balmullo Primary School in Fife

Award-winning children’s author Michael Morpurgo held a special event with hundreds of school children today (Tuesday 19 June) as part of a series of events hosted by the University of St Andrews to mark the centenary of the First World War.

The Home Front: The United Kingdom 1914-1918, which runs until Saturday 23 June, features exhibitions, cinema, music and public lectures devoted to the mobilisation of British society as a whole, an achievement that had a major role in winning the war.

Michael Morpurgo said: “Projects like The Home Front are so important to help us all remember because so few and fewer everyday remember the First World War. There may be stories of great grandparents or people from our villages but we did not and cannot know them. All we can do is remember through stories, through music, art, literature and dance, and in our own way we forge anew our connection with them and their times and to pass this on too.

“The trouble is that all those who went to that war and those who died are now unknown. We have to find a way to tell their stories so that the significance of what they did can be remembered. Above all, we have to remember they were individuals, mostly young men, sons, brothers, fathers who lived and died. They are part of who we are.”

Event host eminent military historian Professor Sir Hew Strachan said: “I am delighted that Michael Morpurgo has found time in a very busy schedule to come to St Andrews to support our week-long programme of events to mark the First World War Centenary on the Home Front.

“But my delight will probably pale into insignificance compared with that of the hundreds of school children who joined him today and whose understanding of the war has been so shaped by his books.”

Other events, all of which are open to the public, include:

  • A public debate on the topic ‘What does remembrance mean today?’ with host Sir Hew Strachan, Professor of International Relations at St Andrews, Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18NOW, the First World War Centenary Cultural Programme, and Birdsong author Sebastian Faulks.
  • An evening at the cinema 1918: a screening of contemporary First World War factual films from the archives of the Imperial War Museum with piano accompaniment from Stephen Horne.
  • A unique portrait of the First World War battlefields: ‘Fields of Battle – Lands of Peace 14-18’ is a powerful outdoor photographic exhibition, by Michael Shiel.
  • A series of lectures on topics ranging from conscription to the role of the royal family, and from pacifism to the role of the press and propaganda.

The Home Front: The United Kingdom 1914-1918 is supported by the Scottish Government and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Michael Morpurgo is the award-winning author of War Horse, Private Peaceful and The Butterfly Lion. His most recent book is In the Mouth of the Wolf published by Egmont.

The full programme and details of how to book is available on The Home Front website.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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