What's On

John Burningham's Bedtime Stories

60 Years of Award-Winning Children’s Literature
7 October 2023 — 7 January 2024

Journey from first sketches to award-winning books in John Burningham’s Bedtime Stories.

Snuggle up this Autumn at the Harley Gallery with an exhibition showing the work of children’s author and illustrator John Burningham.

This name may be familiar from childhood classics like Borka: The Adventures of a Goose With No Feathers, Avocado Baby and as the illustrator of Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. From featherless geese to flying cars, this exhibition will give visitors the chance to reconnect with childhood favourites – or discover the ground-breaking work of John Burningham for the first time.

Original sketchbooks, models, and photographs will reveal John Burningham’s creative life and the impact he had on children’s literature. His witty stories and colourful illustrations pioneered a change in books for children: marking the start of a new creative era as parents moved away from the ‘goody goody’ novels of earlier times.

This exhibition has been organised in association with Selina Skipwith, an independent art advisor and curator.

Borka Geese Migrating at the Harley Foundation

Visitor Information

See this exhibition in the Gallery.

Free Entry.

Shop the Collection

Shop John Burningham’s books online.

From featherless geese to flying cars, you’re sure to find a new favourite fable.

John Burningham (1936-2019)

John Burningham’s critically acclaimed picture books are loved all over the world. Born in Farnham, Surrey, Burningham spent his childhood living in a caravan, immersed in the remote countryside around Gloucester. After attending several ‘alternative’ boarding schools, he studied illustration at the Central School of Art, where in 1964 he met fellow illustrator Helen Oxenbury, who he would later marry.

After travelling and producing a range of posters for London Transport, Burningham released his debut children’s book Borka in 1963. It won the Kate Greenaway Medal as the best illustrated book of the year. A year later, Burningham collaborated with Ian Fleming on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, designing the model of the famous car. He won numerous awards and created over 50 children’s books throughout his 60-year career.

This exhibition has been organised with the support of The Estate of John Burningham, which was set up by John’s family to keep awareness of his books and work alive.


Selina Skipwith

Selina Skipwith is an Independent Art Advisor and Curator. She was the former Director and Keeper of Art of The Fleming Collection 1996-2014, overseeing the creation of The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, and The Fleming Collection gallery in Mayfair, which opened to the public in January 2002.

She has curated numerous art exhibitions in the UK and abroad, she writes and lectures regularly and advises a number of private and corporate clients. Skipwith is a member of the Association of Professional Art Advisors and is a Trustee of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust.