A letter from lockdown, by Michael Morpurgo

Published on: 30 March 2020 Author: Michael Morpurgo

"Who needs swords when we have books?" BookTrust President Sir Michael Morpurgo writes to book lovers young and old in lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus.

Michael Morpurgo in isolation in his garden

Sir Michael Morpurgo in isolation in his garden

Dear all of you book lovers, young and less young, and some who are, like me, old, and there’s no getting away from it! 

Well this is a howdeedo, isn’t it? Here am I, here are you, the inside of our homes our entire world, some of us alone, some with family, some with friends. Most of us are missing something, work, friends, family, just going out, seeing people. We may have our phones, our iplayers. We can text, email, Skype. But it’s not the same. Nothing is normal any more, nothing is as it was. It will be, but not yet, not for a while. 

All of us have the virus in the back of our mind, and some of us are out there every day, doing all they can to look after us, to keep the monster at bay, this Grendel, as I call it. But we mustn’t worry. There are heroes like Beowulf, out there defending us, fighting the monster. They may work in hospitals or care homes, they may drive buses or trains or lorries or collect our dustbins, or look after old folk in their homes. They, and others, like those who work in BookTrust, who have strengthened our spirit, brought books to children, and children to books. They are all, these good people, the Beowulfs of our time, and Beowulf killed the monster, Grendel,  remember. He used a sword. We have science, knowledge, understanding. Much of it brought to us through books. Who needs swords when we have books?

So let’s read our way through these times, write our stories and diaries, sing our songs. Then we’ll be ready afterwards to pick up our lives and go on, not as we were, but down a better road, arm in arm, in case we stumble, in case we lose our way. 

I’m down in Devon where I live, doing what you’re doing, making the best of each day, willing it to be over, and writing. I like writing. I like telling stories. It’s what I do best. I’m retelling the tales of Shakespeare at the moment. Not easy, I promise you, but fun.


Michael Morpurgo, 

or Mr Morpingo or Mr Flamingo, or  Mr Pongo, or Mr Montypurgo.  I’ve been called all of them. Honestly.

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Topics: Features

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