A Family Legacy

Born in Paris, de Brunhoff was only 12 when his father, Jean de Brunhoff, the original creator of Babar, died from tuberculosis. Decades later, Laurent, a talented artist himself, would pick up the mantle and create dozens of new stories about the dapper elephant king of Celesteville.

Babar's Global Impact

The "Babar" series, known for its charming illustrations and timeless stories, transcended borders and languages, selling millions of copies worldwide. It spawned a television show, animated films, and captured the hearts of fans like Charles de Gaulle and Maurice Sendak.

Babar: More Than Just an Elephant

For de Brunhoff, "Babar, c'est moi" ("Babar is me"). He poured his creativity into the series, drawing the iconic elephant for decades.

However, the series wasn't without controversy. The depiction of Babar's education in Paris and his rule over a presumed African kingdom raised questions about colonialism and racial stereotypes. While some saw it as a reflection of French colonial ideals, others defended it as a playful satire.

De Brunhoff himself acknowledged discomfort with some aspects, particularly early depictions of Black characters. He even requested the withdrawal of a book deemed insensitive.

The Birth of a Beloved Character

The story of "Babar" itself has a fascinating origin. Cecile de Brunhoff, Laurent's mother, improvised a tale for her children, including Laurent. Jean de Brunhoff, captivated by the story, began illustrating it, and Babar was born.

A Series Reborn

After his father's passing, Laurent initially pursued a career in painting. However, a pull towards the "Babar" legacy led him to return to the series after World War II. Devoted to continuing the tradition, he created numerous new adventures for the beloved elephant.

Personal Life and Legacy

De Brunhoff married twice, with his second wife, Phyllis Rose, collaborating on later "Babar" titles. Despite not consciously writing for children, his work captured the hearts of generations with its whimsical charm and enduring messages.

The legacy of Laurent de Brunhoff goes beyond the creation of new stories. He ensured the survival and continued popularity of a beloved character, one that sparked imaginations and transcended cultural boundaries.