Laurent de Brunhoff is a French novelist and illustrator who continued the internationally popular 'Babar the elephant' series, after his father and original creator Jean de Brunhoff passed away in 1937. Laurent was five years old when his mother, Cécile de Brunhoff, thought up a bedtime story about an elephant who leaves the jungle to live in the city. By his and his brothers' demand the story was turned into an illustrated novel, 'Histoire de Babar', with drawings by their father Jean de Brunhoff. After he died in 1937, the thirteen-year old Laurent made color illustrations for the next publication. Feeling a void after his father's death, Laurent went to study at the same academy as his father and under the same tutor, namely at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.
In 1946 Laurent felt he had to continue the franchise. He wrote new stories and mimicked his father's drawing style so closely that few readers noticed the difference. In an interview with biographer Nicholas Fox Weber, De Brunhoff admitted that the revival of Babar felt like reviving his father, who passed away too soon. In the course of the next half century he would literally publish a new title every year, the latest being 'Babar on Paradise Island' (2014). In later years he has worked in steady collboration with his wife Phyllis Rose. De Brunhoff had moved to the USA in 1985 and sold the licensing rights of the character to Clifford Ross Company. Nelvana (who made a TV adaptation of 'Babar' between 1989-1991) fought a legal battle over these merchandising rights which wasn't resolved until 2000.
Besides 'Babar', Laurent de Brunhoff has also made children's books with characters of his own invention, like 'Bonhomme' (1965, 1974) and 'Serafina the Giraffe' (1961-1963). He was made into a Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a Chevalier du Légion d'Honneur.