Maurice Burton was a British zoologist and popular science author, who produced many natural history encyclopedias and books including a skeptical treatment of the Loch Ness Monster.
Maurice was born in Hornsey, London on 28 March 1898 and attended Holloway School. He left school to study zoology at King's College, London under Arthur Dendy. He then became a schoolteacher, before joining the staff of the Natural History Museum in 1926 where he remained for the rest of his career until his retirement in 1958.
He married Margaret Maclean in 1929 and they had two sons and a daughter.
He was Curator of Sponges at the British Museum of Natural History from 1927 to 1948, and Deputy Keeper of Zoology in the same institution from 1949 to 1958. His popular science writing included major work on Encyclopedias, and acting as Science Editor for the Illustrated London News and Nature Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. In 1961 he published a book called The Elusive Monster reviewing the evidence for the Loch Ness Monster in the light of his professional knowledge and concluding that it was unlikely that such creatures were living in Loch Ness. He also commented further on this topic in the News Scientist.
Many of Maurice's books were aimed at a juvenile audience. Some of his later books or revised editions were published with his son, Robert Burton (born 1941) who also trained as a zoologist and published many natural history books himself. Robert also took over his father's Nature Notes column in the Daily Telegraph. His daughter Jane Burton (1933–2007) illustrated many of the books and pursued a career as a wildlife photographer.
Maurice died in Albury, Surrey on the 9th of September 1992.