about john burningham portrait


John Burningham was an award-winning artist and illustrator. Born in 1936, he worked in multiple mediums – painting, illustration, collage and sculpture. He was known especially for the wit and humour in his storytelling and artwork and was hugely admired amongst his contemporaries.

His critically acclaimed picture books are loved all over the world. Titles include Humbert, Granpa, Oi, get off our train! Would You Rather, and Patrick Norman McHennessy: The Boy Who Was Always Late.

During his career he won numerous awards for his work including the Kate Greenaway Award in 1963 for his first picture book, Borka, The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers. 2023 will be the 60th anniversary of Borka’s publication.

In addition to his picture books, John published books for older readers including Around the World in Eighty Days, England, France, The Time of your Life and Champagne.

He was married to the illustrator Helen Oxenbury and lived for many years in Hampstead, London. In 2018 John and Helen were jointly presented with the Book Trust Lifetimes Achievement Award for their work in children’s books. 

The Estate of John Burningham has been set up by John’s family to keep awareness of his books and work alive.

An exhibition of John’s work ‘John Burningham’s Bedtime Stories’ is on at the Harley Foundation in Worksop until January 7 2024

A previous retrospective exhibition: John Burningham – An Illustrated Life, was on display at Burgh House, London, until September 4, 2022. You can read about the exhibition and the objects in it here

about john burningham portrait

“One of the greatest picture book innovators of his generation, Burningham has consistently pushed at the boundaries of the medium.”

Professor Martin Salisbury

“John’s work is completely original, unlike anything before or since. It is unique.”

Raymond Briggs

“Burningham is always on the side of the child and children instinctively respond to this.”

Julia Eccleshare

“Stunning, luscious, sexy, hilarious and mysterious and frequently just plain nuts.”

Morris Sendak