Growing up in Ipswich, Helen Oxenbury loved nothing more than drawing. As a teenager, she entered art school and basked in the pleasure of drawing all day. During holidays she helped out at the Ipswich Repertory Theatre workshop, mixing paints for set designers. It was there that she decided her future lay in theatre design. While studying costume design, however, Helen was told by a teacher, “This is hopeless, you know. You ought to go and do illustrations – you’re much more interested in the character, and we don’t know who’s going to play the part!”
Sets and scenery, not books, remained Helen’s preoccupation for her early adult life as she embarked on careers in theatre, film, and TV. After marrying John Burningham, another of the world’s most eminent children’s book illustrators, and giving birth to their first child, at last she turned to illustrating children’s books. Today, Helen is among the most popular and critically acclaimed illustrators of her time.