Created by: Georges Bayard (1918-2004)
This is one of the longest-running young adult series in modern French literature. The hero is 16-year-old Michel Thérais, square-jawed, brown hair, smart, and athletic.
Michel's father is Lucien Thérais, a chemical engineer, and his mother is Claire Thérais, née Darvières. Michel is the oldest of four children. Next are the 11-year-old twins Yves and Marie-France, freckled blondes, whose recklesness and prankish nature is often the cause of many misadventures. Last is 8- or 9-year-old Catherine, who is mentioned in the first novel, but seems to disappear from the series thereafter.
Lucien Thérais has a sister (whose first name I could not find), who married a Monsieur Derieux. The Derieux have two children, 16-year-old Daniel Derieux, blond with a crew cut, who is one of Michel's regular companions, and 9-year-old Andrée who, like Catherine, vanishes early in the series. Daniel is goofier, rasher, and more prone to get into trouble than Michel.
Lucien Thérais' mother -- Michel's grand-mother -- is Denise Thérais, nicknamed Manise. She is featured prominently in No. 10 of the series.
Claire Thérais -- Michel's mother -- has a brother, François Darvières, who is married to Gilberte. Michel's uncle and aunt appear in No. 3 of the series.
Michel's home is La Marguillerie, an historical castle located near the village of Corbie in the region of Picardie, in western France. The castle is home to Honorine, an old family servant. Michel has a dog, a spaniel named Cloche.
Joining Michel and Daniel in their adventures are:
-- Martine Deville, from the nearby city of Amiens, who appears in No. 2, and returns with increasing frequency in the series. Martine met Michel at Euston Station in London when they were both exchange students. She is champion swimmer, a beautiful blonde, and a resourceful friend.
-- Arthur Mitouret is a friend from Corbie who is studying to become a car mechanic. He appears in No. 1, then
returned in No. 6 of the series, then with increasing frequency to complete the trio of Michel and Daniel. Arthur
wears glasses, has dark, curly hair, and is a bit of a geek, but his mechanical skills often prove very useful.
There are few other recurring characters in the series -- worth mentioning is the beautiful Cristina Perrini, Daniel's Italian pen pal, who appears in Nos. 7 and 16 of the series.
Michel's adventures are fairly complex mysteries, that pit him against a gallery of villains including industrial spies, saboteurs, smugglers, forgers, bank robbers, etc.
Michel was created in 1958 by prolific adventure author Georges Bayard (who also created the Cécile and César series) for publisher Hachette's juvenile imprint, Bibliothèque Verte (Green Library). Hachette was founded in 1826 by Louis Christophe François Hachette (1800-1864), a former university professor turned publisher. The Bibliothèque Rose (Pink Library) was launched in 1856, and popularised the works of the Countess of Segur and after WWII, the novels of Enid Blyton and Caroline Quine. The Bibliothèque Verte (Green Library) was launched in 1924 and first published YA versions of the works of Alexandre Dumas and Jules Verne. In the 1950s and 1960s, Hachette added new French series, such as Les Six Compagnons (The Six Companions) by Paul-Jacques Bonzon, Michel by Georges Bayard, Fantômette by Georges Chaulet and Langelot by Vladimir Volkoff writing as "Lieutenant X". Georges Bayard passed away in 2004.
In the original 1958 edition, Michel and his friends were first envisioned by artist Philippe Ledoux; but soon the talented Philippe Daure took over, and gave the characters a more modern and definitive look, which they kept, even through later editions and other artists.
MICHEL & MARTINE
by Philippe LEDOUX
MICHEL by Philippe DAURE