Allan Kardec, the nom de plume of H. Leon Denizard Rivail, was a French educator and philosopher born in Lyon on October 3, 1804.

Rivail spoke several languages, and his impressive intellectual background allowed him to teach courses in comparative physiology, astronomy, chemistry and physics in a prestigious scientific school in Paris. For one of his research papers, he was inducted into the Royal Academy of Arras. He organized and taught free courses for the underprivileged.

In 1854, at the age of 50, Rivail heard of the mysterious paranormal phenomena that had taken America and Europe by storm. 

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Despite his skepticism, he was convinced by close friends to attend an experimental meeting where he was able to witness such occurrences firsthand. His intellectual curiosity and scientific instincts told him that there had to be a rational explanation for these phenomena. Consequently, he began soon afterward to conduct investigations of his own.
Using the same logical rigor that he had applied to his work in education and science, Rivail set out to understand the phenomena. He submitted questions to different channels (mediums), in different countries. The answers were compared, analyzed, and organized for inclusion in The Spirits Book, which was first published in 1857.

To keep his new area of research apart from his writings on education, Rivail — on the advice of spirit instructors — adopted the name Allan Kardec, which he was told had been his name in a previous incarnation. In addition to the publication of the books listed below, he founded the Spiritist Society of Paris and La Revue Spirite, a journal he edited until his death on March 31,1869.

He was married to Amelie Gabrielle Boudet on 6th February 1832. She was nine years his senior, a writer, teacher of fine arts, poetess and artist. She was a perfect companion and helper, being dedicated and uncomplaining. She played an important part in all her husband's activities and sustained him through many financial difficulties encountered during his life, and greatly assisted him in his teaching.  

Books by Allan Kardec:

The Spirits’ Book
The Mediums' Book
The Gospel According to Spiritism
Heaven and Hell
Posthumous Work 
Adapted from the website: www.allan-kardec.org