War Horse

Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by Alan Marks

Introduced by the author

Star of both stage and screen, War Horse is now published in a Folio edition with a striking binding and a series of powerful illustrations by Alan Marks.


Joey, a beautiful bay-red horse with a distinctive white cross on his nose, works on a farm in the Devonshire countryside, alongside his devoted master Albert. But when war breaks out in 1914, Joey is sold to the army and sent to the battlefields of France on the Western Front. Here he witnesses the worst of humanity: the chaos and raw fear of battle, the thunder of machine-gun fire across the trenches, and the senseless slaughter of soldiers and horses alike. Yet in the midst of these vast horrors, quiet acts of kindness remind Joey that friendship and love can survive even in the most terrible of times. 

‘Michael Morpurgo writes brilliantly about war and animals, conveying the big emotions without preaching’

  1. Guardian

Adapted for the stage in 2007, War Horse was first performed at the National Theatre in London to critical acclaim before touring theatres worldwide. In 2012, Stephen Spielberg brought the story to the big screen. Although intended for a young audience, Michael Morpurgo’s moving novel doesn’t shy away from the cruel reality of conflict. The brutal landscape of the First World War is described in elegant, affecting prose, but tempering this are moments of compassion and humanity – by far the most powerful scenes in this poignant story. 

Production Details

Bound in blocked cloth

Set in Centaur

192 pages

Black & white title-page illustration, 7 colour illustrations and 9 black & white tailpieces

Printed endpapers

Die-cut bookmark 

8˝x 5½˝

Please note this edition features a lightweight slipcase printed with the binding design

The timeless value of illustrated books

In his introduction, written exclusively for this edition, Morpurgo, a former Children’s Laureate, discusses the timeless value of illustrated books, as well as the special relationship between author and artist. He describes the beloved illustrated books of his own childhood, stating that, even now, he believes that words and images together are ’how stories are best made and most powerfully told’.

Dramatic and sensitive images

Alan Marks’s dramatic and sensitive images won the commission to illustrate War Horse in the 2016 Book Illustration Competition. Morpurgo, who sat on the judging panel, describes in his introduction how the images ‘shone a new light’ on the story, ultimately enriching it. The striking binding and die-cut bookmark also feature designs by the artist.

About Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo is the best-selling author of over 140 books for children, including The Butterfly Lion (1996), Kensuke’s Kingdom (1999) and Private Peaceful (2003). The theatrical production of his award-winning 1982 novel War Horse celebrates its tenth year in 2018 with a return to the National Theatre. In 2011 War Horse was released as a film directed by Steven Spielberg. Morpurgo and his wife, Clare, founded the charity Farms for City Children, which offers children and teachers from urban primary schools the chance to gain hands-on experience in one of three country farms. In 2003 Morpurgo was appointed Children’s Laureate, a post he helped to set up with Ted Hughes in 1999. He received an OBE for services to literature in 2006 and a knighthood in 2018.

About Alan Marks

Alan Marks is an artist and illustrator. He studied at the Medway College of Art and Design from 1976–7, and at the Bath Academy of Art from 1977–80. After teaching briefly at the Bath Academy, he became a freelance illustrator. Beginning his career illustrating for literary and editorial magazines, he has since worked on a wide variety of books. His illustrations for War Horse won the 2016 annual Book Illustration Competition, run by House of Illustration and The Folio Society.


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