“Never never never give up”

Winston Churchill said it, and Michael Marquet applied it after leaving school at the age of 15 unable to spell his own name. By the time he was 25 he had completed a horticulture apprenticeship, won a scholarship, travelled to Paris to receive the UNESCO Literacy Award and was the published author of Michael’s Challenge: Overcoming Illiteracy.

This first book told the story of Michael’s long struggle to learn to read and write and is one of the few personal accounts of how it feels to be on learning side of the illiteracy barrier.

“Many books have beeen written on illiteracy, but there was nothing from a student’s point of view”, says Michael. “It was then I decided to write a book about my own experiences.”

Two years later Michael wrote Literacy My Prize, a fuller account of his achievement of literacy in the Christchurch Adult Reading Scheme,  including the story of his trip to Paris to receive the UNESCO Literacy Award for 1988.

Now he has written a third book, describing how, as a young man, he built up a small property portfolio on low gardener’s wages. Michael says of his latest “the essence of the story is about perseverance with life struggles to achieve my goals and dreams, by telling a good yarn in my own quirky style, as I reminsce about the challenges I have overcome and the people who have touched me.”

The name of his latest book will be revealed when it is launched by the Honourable Anne Tolley, Minister of Education, at the Central Library on Wednesday 13th October at 6.30 pm.

2 thoughts on ““Never never never give up”

  1. Barbara Duckett 12 October 2010 / 10:06 am

    Congratulations Michael, you are and inspiration to all who need literacy assistance,thank you for having the courage to write about literacy and tell your story. Confidence is so hard for learners, and is such a huge part of the learning process.
    I heard you speak at the Literacy Aotearoa hui this year, to a room full of tutors and managers, its gives us so much joy to see our students succeed. Well done.

  2. Sue Smurthwaite 16 September 2011 / 3:54 pm

    I would like to contact Michael about being a speaker at a school conference. Does anyone know how to contact him? I can be reached at

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