He is the only son of Gilbert de Botton, who was a financier (who founded Global Asset Management) and art collector, and his first wife, Jacqueline Burgauer. Alain spent the first 12 years of his life in Switzerland, where he learned to speak French and German.
His family later moved to London, where he learned English.
He was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford and Harrow School in London. He took a double starred first in history and philosophy at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (1988-90), and completed his masters degree in philosophy at King's College London (1991-92).
https://education.independent.co.uk/graduate_options/article994758.ece He was a PhD candidate at King's College, London.
De Botton has written essayistic books, which refer both to his own experiences and ideas - and those of artists, philosophers, and thinkers. It is a style of writing that has been referred to as a 'philosophy of everyday life.' His books are published in 20 languages.
In 1993, his first novel, Essays In Love (titled On Love in the US), was published to critical acclaim. It analysed the process of falling in and out of love. The style of the book was unusual, because it mixed elements of a novel together with reflections and analyses normally found in a piece of non-fiction.
He didn't, however, receive world-wide recognition until after the publication of his first non-fiction work, How Proust Can Change Your Life, in 1997. The book was based on the life and works of Marcel Proust. It is a mixture of an ironic 'self-help' envelope and an analysis of one of the most revered but unread books in the Western canon. It was a bestseller in the US and UK.
It was followed by The Consolations of Philosophy. Though sometimes described as works of popularisation, these two books were attempts to develop original ideas (about, for example, friendship, art, envy, desire, and inadequacy) with the help of thoughts of other thinkers. The title of this book is a reference to Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, in which philosophy appears as an allegorical figure to Boethius to offer him consolation before he faces his impending execution. In The Consolations of Philosophy, de Botton attempts to demonstrate how the teachings of philosophers such as Epicurus, Montaigne, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Seneca, and Socrates can be applied to modern everyday woes, such as unpopularity, feelings of inadequacy, financial worries, broken hearts, and the general problem of suffering. The book has been both praised and criticised for its therapeutic approach to philosophy.
De Botton then returned to a more lyrical, personal style of writing. In The Art of Travel, he looked at themes in the psychology of travel: how we imagine places before we see them, how we remember beautiful things, what happens to us when we look at deserts, or stay in hotels, or go to the countryside.
In Status Anxiety, he examined an almost universal anxiety that is rarely mentioned directly: the anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser.
De Botton's latest book, The Architecture of Happiness, discusses beauty and ugliness in architecture.
 Columns & Lectures
He writes regular columns for several English newspapers, including The Independent (on Sundays). He also travels extensively to lecture on his works.
 Production company
He is Director of the Graduate Philosophy Program at London University.
 Personal life
His family originates from a small Castilian town of Boton (now vanished) on the Spanish peninsula. They left in 1492, along with the rest of the Sephardic Jewish community, and eventually settled in Alexandria, Egypt, where de Botton's father was born.
He has one sister, Miel, who is a psychologist in Paris.
 Complete works
- Essays In Love (1993)
- The Romantic Movement (1994)
- Kiss and Tell (1995)
- How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997)
- The Consolations of Philosophy (2000)
- The Art of Travel (2002)
- Status Anxiety (2004)
- The Architecture of Happiness (2006)
 Television series
- How Proust Can Change Your Life
- Philosophy: A Guide To Happiness (from "The Consolations of Philosophy")
- The Art of Travel
- Status Anxiety
- The Perfect Home (from The Architecture of Happiness)
"If you had to extract A Good Idea from Alain de Botton, it would be that literature and philosophy can offer ordinary people a richer, more complete understanding of their own experience. This has not been a fashionable line for a long time, which helps to account for the freshness of How Proust Can Change Your Life" - Robert Hanks, The Independent (3/4/2000)
"There's an easy charm to de Botton's writing, pleasure to be had in its intellectual-order and civilised tidiness." - Melanie McGrath, Evening Standard (13/5/2002)
"All de Botton's books, fiction and non- fiction, deal with how thought and specifically philosophy might help us deal better with the challenges of quotidian life -- returning philosophy to its simple, sound origins." - Annette Kobak, Times Literary Supplement (31/5/2002)
"How could such simplistic crackwash be construed as useful, let alone life-changing?" - Simone de Wittgenotle, The Onion (13/3/06)