Unlike other scholars and specialists in children's literature, Brian had an unconventional entry in and course through his connections with the subject. Brian has provided the following synopsis, which he says 'gives evidence of a largely unprofessional career governed largely by happenstance and an amateur involvement with journalism and bibliography':

1930 Born at Bush Hill Park, Enfield, Middlesex

1935-9 Schooling at Keble House Preparatory School, Winchmore Hill, followed by a period of evacuated rambling

1941-48 Schooling at the Society of Friends' School at Ackworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire, followed by brief employment at Bumpus's Bookshop in Oxford Street, London

1949-52 Undergraduate at the University College of the South-West, Exeter, at that time reading for the external examinations at the University of London. Brian (just) gained a third-class honours degree in German, but through the vagaries of the system at that time, passed subsidiary examinations in Latin and Philosophy

1952-4 Employment at the London book-wholesalers, Simpkin Marshall

1953 Marriage to Valerie Christine Wells (born Bristol 1931-2005) who had been a fellow undergraduate reading biology

1954-63 Employment at Don Gresswell Ltd, booksellers in Enfield specialising in children's books

Circa 1958 Brian attended evening classes leading to his passing the Preliminary Technical examination at the London School of Printing – 'for fun'

1963-5 Tutor-librarian at the East Herts College of Further Education

1965-83 Lecturer in children's literature at the School of Librarianship at the Polytechnic of North-West London

1967-96 also became Children's Books Editor for The Times

1983-present Retirement to Richmond in the North Riding of Yorkshire, undertaking freelance work as a writer and lecturer, often in North America, and managing, with Valerie, the Five Owls Bookshop (1983-1998)

2005 Death of Valerie Alderson, almost coinciding with the time when Brian's association with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children's Books began