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John Cunliffe
Born John Arthur Cunliffe
(1933-06-16)16 June 1933
Colne, England
Died 20 September 2018(2018-09-20) (aged 85)
Ilkley, England
Occupation Author, teacher, librarian, TV presenter
Nationality British
Notable works Postman Pat (1981–2008)
Rosie and Jim (1990–2000)
Years active 1981–2018
Spouse Sylvia Thompson (m. 1960)
Children 1

John Arthur Cunliffe (16 June 1933 – 20 September 2018) was an English children's book author and television presenter who created the characters of Postman Pat and Rosie and Jim.


Cunliffe was born in Colne, Lancashire, and was the only child of Nelly and Arthur Cunliffe. His father walked out on the family when John was a baby, never to be seen or heard from again. His great-uncle Herbert introduced him to the literary works of Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare, and let John use the microscope he kept in his front room. Cunliffe was a very tall child for his age, and was bullied at school because of this. He attended Colne Grammar School, and later lived in Kendal, Westmorland; where the small towns and villages of that area would provide the inspiration for his most famous character, Postman Pat. 'Greendale', where the character and series is set, is based on the valley of Longsleddale, near Kendal. Cunliffe worked for many years as a librarian, and also as a teacher at Castle Park Primary School.

Cunliffe was commissioned by the BBC to write Postman Pat, which was produced by Ivor Wood and first aired in 1981. He created Pat and Greendale as an idyllic village where everyone was nice to each other, in contrast to the bullying he had suffered when growing up. Following the success of Postman Pat, Cunliffe subsequently became something of a local celebrity, having a room dedicated to him at Kendal's Museum of Lakeland Life.

In the 1990s, Cunliffe's other well-known creation, Rosie and Jim, was also written for television. He scripted and presented the first 50 episodes, then turned some of them into books. Cunliffe intended to create a series closer to what he wanted overall, after being disappointed by some of the merchandising and tie-in books for Postman Pat, over which he had little control.

In 2010, he released "Ghosts", a children's story for the iPad. He was patron of the Ilkley Literature Festival.

Cunliffe died of heart failure on 20 September 2018, and his death was first announced in the local newspaper, the Ilkley Gazette which said he "left his Ilkley home in a deluge of rain [...] never to return".

VHS videos and DVDs

  • My Favourite Nursery Rhymes
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