Philippe Aries was born in Blois in 1914. He studies at the Sorbonne and later became an expert on tropical agriculture. This he found only modestly absorbing and consequently took up historical research, describing his experiences in this area, in his autobiography, Un historien du dimanche.
His first interest was in demography, the starting point for his book, Centuries of Childhood and for an earlier work Histoire des populations francaises. His later and more controversial works, focusing on the subject of death, include Western Attitudes Towards Death and The Hour of Our Death.
All Aries' books are outstanding examples of the discoveries which historians can make when they decide to concentrate on what Balzac claimed should be the province of the novel: that of writing the history of manners and of man's perception of himself. Phillipe Aries died in February 1984.