Burningham was born April 27, 1936 in Farnham, Surrey, England to Charles and Jessie (Mackintosh) Burningham. After primary school, he joined the Friend's Ambulance Unit in 1953. When he was 20, he attended the Central School of Art and graduated in 1959. After assorted work on posters for London and British Transport and animated films, he began his writing career in 1963 with the book The Adventures of a Goose With No Feathers which won the 1963 Kate Greenaway Medal.
Burningham married author/illustrator Helen Gillian Oxenbury in 1964, and continued to write. His children's book Mr. Gumpy's Outing won the 1970 Kate Greenaway Medal, making Burningham a two time winner of the award. John (Mackintosh) Burningham (1936-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights Since his first book, he has contributed to over sixty other books, and has received many awards, including the 1980 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. His 1984 book Granpa was the basis for a 1989 animated film, also called Granpa.