Iconic children’s authors John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury have jointly been presented with the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award.
Set up in 2015 the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates the body of work of an author or illustrator who has made an outstanding contribution to children’s literature. Previous winners are Shirley Hughes, Judith Kerr and Raymond Briggs.
John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury, who married in 1964, have won several literary awards individually but have only collaborated on one book together, There’s Going to be a Baby, published by Walker in 2010.
John said of winning the award: ‘I’m incredibly grateful to be given an award for a lifetime of work. I’m so very flattered when I hear people now say they love my books and that something I did 50 years ago still works and is enjoyed by their family.’
Helen commented ‘It’s particularly lovely as we have been awarded this honour jointly – and to get an award from BookTrust who know everything there is to know about children’s books is just wonderful.’
The adjudicating panel is current Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child; author and television presenter Dame Floella Benjamin; writer and illustrator Anthony Browne; poet and playwright Joseph Coelho; CEO of BookTrust, Diana Gerald and chair, writer and critic Nicolette Jones.
Nicolette Jones said: ‘John Burningham brings a fine artist’s skill to children’s illustration, with pioneering images that are rich in texture and free with line, appearing in some of the most beautiful, original and memorable picture books of the past 50+ years. Helen Oxenbury is surely one of our finest living draught people, and has been a ground-breaking illustrator throughout her career. Her baby books set a trend, and helped to persuade parents that you are never too young for books. Her images reflected the diversity of our society at a time when few did.’