Sheila Burnford

Sheila Burnford

Sheila Philip Cochrane Burnford, née Every, (11 May 1918 – 20 April 1984) was an English novelist.

Born in Scotland but brought up in various parts of the United Kingdom, she attended St. George's School, Edinburgh and Harrogate Ladies College. In 1941 she married Doctor David Burnford, with whom she had three children. During World War II she worked as a volunteer ambulance driver. In 1951 she emigrated to Canada, settling in Port Arthur, Ontario.

Burnford is best remembered for The Incredible Journey, a story about three animals traveling in the wilderness (1961), the first of a number of books she wrote on Canadian topics. The book was a modest success in 1961 but became a bestseller after it formed the basis of a successful Disney film. Although The Incredible Journey is marketed as a children's book, and in fact won the 1961 Canadian Children's Book of the Year award, Mrs Burnford has stated that it was not intended as a children's book.

She also wrote One Woman's Arctic (1973) about her two summers in Pond Inlet, Nunavut on Baffin Island. She traveled by komatik, a traditional Inuit dog sled, assisted in archaeological excavation, having to thaw the land inch by inch, ate everything offered to her, and saw the migration of the narwhals. This is a world that has experienced unlimited change, but Burnford saw the best and worst of Pond Inlet at a time gone forever.

She died of cancer in the village of Bucklers Hard in Hampshire at the age of 65.

Books by Sheila Burnford