Timothée de Fombelle

I felt like the earth, one day, had split in two. I found myself on the wrong side, that of adulthood. I didn’t stay on the sidelines, I continued on my way, but I wanted to keep the memory of what I had left behind.

Timothée de Fombelle, with his children’s novels published around the whole world, finds a way to cultivate his freedom to write and satisfy his thirst for adventures.

Published on 22/05/2019

2 min

A Parisian author, Timothée de Fombelle explains that he started writing when he was a child. He began his writing career as a playwright and produced several plays, including The Lighthouse (“Le Phare”), in 2001 (which won the Souffler Prize the following year) and I Always Dance (“Je danse toujours”) in 2003. But it is thanks to his young-adult novels that he became known to the general public. His first book, a two-part tale called Tobie Lolness and published in 2006, sold over a million copies worldwide.

This first success was followed by a new tale in 2010: Vango. Next was Victoria Dream (“Victoria rêve”) (2012), The Two Lives of Mr Pearl (“Le Livre de Perle”) (2014) and George, all my Dreams Sing (“Georgia, tous mes rêves chantent”) in 2016, a musical story dedicated to the SOS Children’s Villages charity.

Timothée de Fombelle lost his father at the age of 20, a tragedy that deeply affected him and forced him to grow up quickly. By writing for young people, the French author says he wants to rediscover a certain spirit of freedom that he associates with his childhood, when everything was possible and building a fort was an incredible adventure. He thus invents fantastic stories, which he describes as "rides that leave you breathless", where the ideas of courage, love and compassion are central.

Nevertheless, Timothée de Fombelle doesn’t want to teach lessons: “If I convey something, it’s most of all an awareness of the fragility of beings and the world, and therefore the importance of intensity, in every moment of life.” 

The success of Timothée de Fombelle's novels has allowed him to become a globally recognised author. He has racked up numerous awards: The Marsh Award in Great Britain and the Andersen Prize in Italy for Tobie Lolness, the Prix Jeunesse des Librairies du Québec in 2011 for Vango, the Andersen Prize again in 2013 for Victoria Dream, and the Prix Pépite for the European Teen Novel at the Montreuil Book and Youth Press Fair in 2014 for The Two Lives of Mr Pearl.

The writer, whose books have been translated into more than 25 languages (from Turkish to Polish, including Catalan and Dutch), travelled to meet his readers in 2015 at festivals in Mexico, Buenos Aires and London.

  • 2002


    His play The Lighthouse receives the Prix du Souffleur.

  • 2003


    Timothée de Fombelle enters the world of publishing with the release by Actes Sud of his play I Always Dance.

  • 2006


    He publishes his first children’s story, Tobie Lolness, a two-part tale about a one and a half millimetre-tall teenager who lives in trees. The book is translated into 29 languages.

  • 2014


    His novel The Two Lives of Mr Pearl receives the Prix Pépite for a European Teen Novel at the Montreuil Book and Youth Press Fair. In 2017 it will be nominated for the Carnegie Medal, which recognizes the best books for young people in Britain.

  • 2017


    Timothée de Fombelle publishes Neverland, his first adult novel in which he searches for his childhood memories.

The Institut français and the author.

Timothée de Fombelle visited the United Kingdom (South Ken Kids Festival) and China in 2015 with the support of the Institut français, to meet his international audience.


L'institut français, LAB