Jean de Brunhoff (Jean de Brunhoff)

Jean de Brunhoff

French Author, Illustrator. He is best remembered for creating the Babar the Elephant books, about an orphaned baby elephant, that was first appeared in 1931 and became an instant success. Born the youngest of four children, his father was a publisher. He attended Protestant schools, including the prestigious Ecole Alsacienne. During the latter part of World War I he joined the French Army and served on the front lines when war was almost over. He then decided to become a professional artist and studied painting at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris. The Babar books began as a bedtime story that his wife Cecile invented for their two sons, when they were four and five years old, respectively. The boys took a liking to the story of the little elephant who left the jungle for a city resembling Paris so much that they took it to their father and asked him if he could illustrate it, and he turned it into a picture book, with text. It was originally planned that the book’s title page would describe the story as told by Jean and Cecile de Brunhoff but she had her name removed. Due to the role she played in the concept of the Babar story, many sources continue to refer to her as its creator. After the first book “Histoire de Babar” (The Story of Babar) in 1931, six more titles followed, including “The Travels of Babar” (1934), “Babar the King” (1935), “A.B.C. of Babar” (1936), “Zephir’s Holidays” (1937), “Babar and His Children” (1938), and “Babar and Father Christmas” (1940). He died of tuberculosis at the age of 37. After his death, his brother Michel de Brunhoff, who was the editor of French Vogue, oversaw the publication in book form of his two last books, both of which had been done in black and white for a British newspaper, The Daily Sketch. Michel arranged for the black and white drawings to be painted in color, drafting Jean’s then-thirteen-year-old son Laurent Brunhoff to do some of the work. The first seven Babar books were reprinted and millions of copies were sold all around the world. His son Laurent continued Babar the Elephant series of children’s books after the end of World War II. (bio by: William Bjornstad)  Family links:  Spouse:  Cécile De Brunhoff (1903 – 2003)* *Calculated relationship


  • December, 09, 1899
  • France


  • October, 10, 1937
  • France


  • Cimetière du Père Lachaise
  • France

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