The worldwide bestselling story of a Devon horse that goes off to the First World War inspired by tales told in a village pub in Iddesleigh celebrates its 40th anniversary in October.

War Horse. written by Iddesleigh’s own writer, former children’s laureate Sir Michael Morpurgo was first published back in 1982.

Sir Michael said he had got ‘seriously lucky’ with the novel he wrote after listening to the tales of First World War veterans around the fire at the Duke of York pub in his home village of Iddesleigh.

It went on to be adapted as a play for the stage of the National Theatre and was subsequently made into a Hollywood movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

Sir Michael said: ‘War Horse is my wife Clare’s favourite and probably always will be. That means a lot. I got seriously lucky with War Horse.

‘Lucky that the publishers kindly kept it in print when it was selling only a few hundred copies, lucky that the director Tom Morris picked it up for the National Theatre production and made the most wonderful theatre production and lucky that Steven Spielberg came to call.

‘It has been the most wonderful journey and after 40 years Joey still gallops on.’

War Horse is the story of Joey the horse set in the fields of Devon and trenches of the First World War, a powerful story of friendship and humanity on both sides of the war that touches people of all ages. The book went on to be made into the smash hit and multi award-winning National Theatre stage production in 2007 which toured worldwide and has been seen by over eight million people in 11 countries.

Then in 2011 War Horse was made into a film by Steven Spielberg.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary, a new edition of the novel is being published by Farshore on October 13 featuring a new photographic cover from fine art photographer Nine Francois and illustrations by reportage and war artist, George Butler. Sir Michael will also be giving a ‘concert tour’, reading his story at festivals and stand-alone events across the UK.