Life Imitates Art

Authors of fictions about the Great War often claim that their work is rooted in some actuality or memento of the conflict. A grandfather’s memories, an interview with a veteran, a bundle of letters…

In the ‘Author’s Note’ to War Horse, Michael Morpurgo wrote that he was inspired to write the book by a painting in  Iddesleigh Village Hall, placed beneath a clock pointing permanently to one minute past ten. Now it turns out that he wasn’t.

The Guardian is running an ‘Author annotates his/her text’ feature, and Morpurgo adds this note to his Note

‘It turns out that the “Author’s Note” was rather ill-advised. Thanks largely to the National Theatre & Mr Spielberg, people began to turn up at the village hall in Iddesleigh where I live, looking for the picture of Joey. In fact, the picture was a fiction – if you see what I’m saying. So many disappointed visitors complained to the villagers that we arranged for the fiction to become fact. Now, if you visit the village hall in Iddesleigh, you will see Joey up there in his picture. And the time on the clock.’

So now I can’t help but wonder about the conversations with the three farm-boy veterans that apparently gave him the basis for Private Peaceful

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