Search icon

Michael Morpurgo to deliver Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture

News Section Icon Published 2/28/2023

Michael Morpurgo portrait

Sir Michael Morpurgo OBE – one of Britain's best-loved authors – will share his passion for animal welfare and the natural world as he delivers the guest lecture in honour of our founder, Peter Roberts MBE, at this year’s Oxford Literary Festival.

Encouraging children to develop a relationship with the natural world

Farms for City Children: The Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture – which takes place at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford on Saturday 25th March – will see the award-winning author of iconic books such as War Horse joined in conversation by our Global CEO, Philip Lymbery in front of an audience of book enthusiasts and animal lovers.

The pair will take to the stage to explore the former Children’s Laureate’s passion for animal welfare, how he encourages children to develop a relationship with the natural world, and the importance of humane and sustainable farming.

Peter Roberts memorial lecture

This is the third time the Oxford Literary Festival has hosted our Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture. The event, which starts at 4 pm, was named in honour of our founder, a dairy farmer, who became horrified at the development of factory farming and the disconnect between modern agriculture and the well-being of animals and the environment. It was set up from the kitchen table of his Hampshire dairy farm in 1967.

Sir Michael, who is also one of our Visionaries, founded the charity Farms for City Children with his wife, Clare, more than 40 years ago and describes it as ‘his best story ever’. Many of his best-known works feature a relationship with the natural and animal world at their heart.

Words from our CEO

Philip Lymbery, our Global CEO, said: “I’m very much looking forward to introducing Sir Michael at this special event honouring our founder, Peter Roberts MBE. He would be proud that, today, Compassion is an influential global movement, achieving profound and enduring advancements in farm animal welfare whilst highlighting the destructive impacts of factory farming not only on animals, farmed and wild, but on people and our planet.”

Pasture to Plate

The event is part of a series taking place at the festival under the banner, ‘Pasture to Plate’, that explores the environmental and health benefits of raising food on pasture and getting it to the consumer quickly through a short supply chain.

As part of this series, Philip will be taking part in three events at the Festival. First, at 10 am, he will be in conversation at the Sheldonian Theatre with National Food Strategy author, Henry Dimbleby, in a session called Ravenous: Why our appetite is killing us and the planet. This highly topical event will see Philip and the ‘food tsar’ discuss why the food system is leading us to disaster and what we can all do about it.

Then at 2 pm that afternoon, Philip will also be interviewing the president of the non-profit group, Mercy for Animals, Leah Garces, about her new book, Grilled. The event, called Grilled: Turning Adversaries into Allies to Change the Chicken Industry, tells the story of how she befriended the owners of American megafarms and worked alongside them to improve conditions in the American chicken industry and takes place at the Oxford Martin School Seminar Room.

The following day, at 12 pm, Sir Michael will be hosting another event at the Sheldonian in our association. At the Tales from the Farm: Writing about Nature, Animals and the Landscape event, the Running Wild author will talk about how nature, animals and the landscape inspire his writing and read his latest book Tales from the Farm.

For further details of all the events and for ticket information visit the Oxford Literary Festival website.


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).