Alain de Botton was born on 20 December 1969 in Zurich, Switzerland. He is the only son of Gilbert de Botton and Jacqueline Burgauer. He has one sister named Miel. Alain spent his childhood in Switzerland, where he learned to speak French and German. In 1981, Alain and his family moved to London, where he was primarily educated. He studied history at Cambridge University (1988-1990) and completed a masters degree in philosophy at Kings College (1991-1992). In 1993, his first novel, 'Essays In Love', was published. He has since written many books on what he describes as "the philosophy of everyday life". His works have all been critically acclaimed, particularly his most well known non-fiction novel, 'How Proust Can Change Your Life' (1997). Alain now lives in London with his wife, Charlotte Neser, and their two young sons, Samuel and Saul. He is a regular contributer to several English newspapers, and lectures extensively on his books. He also owns his own production company, Seneca Productions, which regularly presents documentaries based on his works.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Calliope
He currently lives in London with his wife, Charlotte, and their two young sons - Samuel (b. September 2004) and Saul (b. September 2006).
He is the only son of Gilbert de Botton and Jacqueline Burgauer (his parents were married in 1962 and divorced in 1988 - his father married Janet Wolfson in 1990). He also has one sister named Miel. His father passed away from a heart attack in 2000.
He was born in Switzerland, but grew up primarily in England. As a result, he speaks three languages: English, French and German.
His deepest literary influences include Nicholson Baker, Julian Barnes, Roland Barthes and Milan Kundera.
His favourite philosophers are Epicurus, Montaigne, Nietzsche, Plato, Schopenhauer, Seneca and Socrates.
Currently promoting "The Architecture Of Happiness" (his latest novel). [October 2006]
Personal Quotes (13)
I was so slow at school I was thought to be the family idiot. I don't remember any praise or encouragement. I hope not to repeat that pattern with Samuel. My only real worry is that he will turn out to be a cheerful rugby player and we will have nothing to talk about.
I tend to get upset by bad reviews, but generally try to separate out what I think is fair from what is unfair. The most upsetting reviews are not necessarily the nastiest, but the most accurate. Nothing hurts quite like the truth.
I have lots of fears as a writer - that what I write is not good enough. A huge fear, but mostly, what I write and think about first time is rather poor and has to be improved upon. I am not sure if any writer is ever satisfied first time around, but I am certainly not. So this demands nerves of steel - one has to think: "It is terrible now, but hopefully one day it can be good." Writing demands faith.
Music means a lot to me. I am moved, on the one hand, by the cantatas of Bach and, on the other hand, I am drawn mostly to modern female vocalists, in particular, Sinead O'Connor and Natalie Merchant. Like most writers, I wish I could have been a musician.
I confess not to be very interested, myself, in "popularising" philosophy. I am keen, though, to look at certain ideas that have appeared in philosophy, as well as in history, art, science, etc, and weave my own reflections in with them.
When I want to switch off, I just watch TV.
It is clear to me that there is no good reason for many philosophy books to sound as complicated as they do. It is not the ideas that necessitate such impenetrable prose, it's that the authors can't write very well or, if they can, they are overtly interested in frightening the reader.
I am in general a very pessimistic person with an optimistic day-to-day take on things. The bare facts of life are utterly terrifying, and yet, one can laugh. Indeed, one has to laugh precisely because of the darkness: the nervous laughter of the trenches.
I was uncomfortable writing fiction. My love was the personal essay rather than the novel. My first book, 'Essays In Love', was, in fact, an essay, but my publisher changed its definition to a novel because she thought it would sell better. It sold worse...One day I hope to write about relationships again and the book will read a little like fiction, though my allegiance remains to the personal essay.
I was always aware that there are readers out there interested in the lucid discussion of ideas - readers who tend not to be well catered for by either the mainstream academics nor by more popular non-fiction writing. That said, to write an essay on Proust and expect it to be on the New York Times bestseller list is crazy!
I grew up in Switzerland speaking French, then, at the age of twelve, moved to England. The shift made me deeply unhappy and, as we know that unhappiness is good for writing, I am sure it helped.
Seventies Genesis is brilliant. There are some amazing, ambitious arrangements. It's great stuff.
Work begins when the fear of doing nothing at all finally trumps the terror of doing it badly.