Allan Kardec is the nom de plume of the French educator, translator and author Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail (3 October 1804 – 31 March 1869). He is the author of the five books known as the Spiritist Codification, and is the founder of Spiritism.
Rivail was born in Lyon in 1804 and raised as a Roman Catholic. He pursued interests in philosophy and the sciences, and became an acolyte and colleague of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. Rivail completed a number of educational courses including a Bachelor of Arts degrees in science and a doctorate in medicine. He was also fluent in German, English, Italian, and Spanish, in addition to his native French.
He was a member of several scholarly societies, including the Historic Institute of Paris (Institut Historique), Society of Natural Sciences of France (Société des Sciences Naturelles de France), Society for the Encouragement of National Industry (Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale), and The Royal Academy of Arras (Académie d’Arras, Société Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Arts). He organized and taught free courses for the underprivileged.
Rivail’s work with Pestalozzi helped lay the foundations for the teaching model in schools in France and Germany. For several decades he helped advance Pestalozzi’s pedagogy in France, founding schools and working as a teacher, educational writer and translator.