Babar is a fictional character, shaped like an elephant, a hero of childhood and youth literature created by Cécile de Brunhoff and illustrated by Jean de Brunhoff.
Cécile de Brunhoff is at the origin of Babar>. She is used to telling stories to her two sons, Laurent and Mathieu. Among them, the one that describes the adventures of a small elephant who runs away from the forest to escape the hunter and arrives in a city where he dresses like a man. Back home by car, he brings back the benefits of civilization and is crowned king of elephants.
According to family legend, the genesis of Babar originated in the Bunau-Varilla family. The grandmother of Laurent and Mathieu, Ida de Brunhoff, had indeed married Philippe Bunau-Varilla, general director of the Universal Company of the Interoceanic Canal of Panama. Their daughter, Gisele Bunau-Varilla, had married Mario Rocco, an adventurer. Together, they hunted elephants in the Belgian Congo in 1928 before settling in Kenya. It is in this country that an elephant wounded by ivory hunters, and collected by the wife of the Belgian ambassador, would have become the darling of their children.
It was while reading a letter of Gisele sent from Kenya that Babar would have sprouted in the imagination of Cecile. Be that as it may, the story of their pianist mother pleases them so much that they tell their father, Jean de Brunhoff, a painter. The idea then comes to make an illustrated book for family use. His brother Michel de Brunhoff and his brother-in-law Lucien Vogel, enthusiastic, publish it in large format at the Editions du Jardin des Modes under the title The Story of Babar the Little Elephant (1931), at the time of the colonial exhibition .