He has worked as a Unitarian Universalist minister (at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship in Bellingham, Washington from 1960-64 , and the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church in Edmonds, Washington amongst other communities well into the 1980s).
During this same period he taught drawing, painting, and philosophy at the Lakeside School in Seattle. Fulghum is an accomplished painter and sculptor. He sings, and plays the guitar and mando-cello. He was a founding member of the authors' collective rock-and-roll band, "Rock Bottom Remainders". Previous to his professional careers, he also worked as a ditch-digger, newspaper carrier, ranch hand, salesman for IBM, and singing cowboy. He grew up in Waco, Texas.
He came to prominence in the US when his first collection, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (1986), stayed on the New York Times bestseller lists for nearly two years.
Throughout this collection, subtitled "Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things," Fulghum expounds his down-home philosophy of seeing the world through the eyes of a child.
His prose style is very simple and direct, and finds life-affirming maxims in such mundane matters as zoos, leaf-raking and dusting.
His other collections include:
Fulghum has performed in two television adaptations of his work for PBS, and is a Grammy nominee for the spoken word award. He has been a speaker at numerous colleges, conventions, and public events across the United States and Europe. He has been a nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist.
There are currently more than 16 million copies of his books in print, published in 27 languages in 103 countries.
He has written one novel in three volumes, the first, titled Third Wish, was continued in Third Wish II, The Rest of the Story, Almost and completed with the third volume, "Third Wish, Granted". The novel was recently published in Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian. Negotiations are under way for further publication in Europe in Spanish, Italian, and German. English-language publication is being negotiated.
Eventually his books of essays were transformed into two stage productions. The first shares the same title as his first book, and was conceived and adapted by Ernest Zulia, with music and lyrics by David Caldwell. The play is based on all eight books, and is an optional musical. The second is entitled "Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas". To date there have been more than 1,000 national and international productions of these plays.