Sanchez-Silva was born in Madrid. His father, José María Sánchez Silva, was a journalist close to anarchism, writing in the journal Earth, who went into exile in 1939. But many years before the family had been unstructured and son (Sánchez-Silva) just lived with his father at times was practically a vagrant child. He joined in institutions for orphans and children at risk as the Brown School of Madrid (Madrid City Hall dependent). In these institutions for children learned typing and shorthand, which got a stenographer's office in the city of Madrid. In 1934, he published his first book The Man in the scarf.
During the Spanish Civil War, he remained in the Republican zone in Madrid, working with the clandestine activities of the Falange up to the time of Franco's troops entered the city. In 1939, he began working as a journalist in the newspaper Arriba, where he became assistant principal, and also collaborated with the newspaper El Pueblo. Jose Maria Sanchez Silva won his fame as a result of the story Marcelino bread and wine, which was made into a film by Ladislao Vajda, and became one of the great successes of Spanish cinema worldwide. In addition to the aforementioned Andersen Award he received in 1968, won the national prize for literature in 1957. After the success of the story of Marcelino, he returned to resume the character in stories under Marcelino Pan y Vino and Adventures in the sky Marcelino Pan y Vino. Together with José Luis Sáenz de Heredia, was the author of the screenplay of the movie Franco, ese hombre, a biography in the dictator.