The Butterfly Lion: Facts About the Book by Michael Morpurgo

  • Here are some facts about The Butterfly Lion by Michael Morpurgo.
  • The Butterfly Lion was first published by Collins in 1996.
  • The book won the 1996 Smarties Book Prize.
  • Natalie Cassidy named The Butterfly Lion as her favourite book on the BBC Bringing Books to Life feature.
  • Michael Morpurgo was unhappy at boarding school, and, when he was seven, he ran away. These experiences made it into The Butterfly Lion.
  • The story was reworked for the stage by Daniel Buckroyd and the show was performed in theaters all over the UK.


  • When Michael Morpurgo was asked to name his favourite of the books he’s written, he named The Butterfly Lion (along with Kensuke’s Kingdom, War Horse and Private Peaceful).
  • The Butterfly Lion is not the only one of Michael Morpurgo’s books to feature a cat. Kaspar – Prince of Cats, Tom’s Sausage Lion, Mossop’s Last Chance, Adolphus Tips and The Nine Lives of Montezuma¬†are also about cats.


  • The story was inspired by a number of different things – Michael’s boyhood memories, the experiences of Chris McBride with the lions of Timbavati, a meeting Michael had with the actress Viginia McKenna – a great supporter of lions and their welfare, the true story of a World War 1 soldier who saved some circus animals in France, and the glimpse from a train window of the chalk white horse near Westbury.


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