Nguyễn Tiến Lãng was born on September 9, 1909 in Văn Lãng district, Thái Nguyên province (formerly known as Hội Xá village, Mỹ Đức district, Hà Đông province) into a family with a tradition of Confucianism. His father was a district chief. His eldest brother was the writer Nguyễn Mạnh Bổng, and his brother-in-law was the poet Tản Đà. Nguyễn Tiến Lãng studied at Chu Văn An high school or trường Bưởi, then Lycée Albert Sarraut and École de Droit et d’Administration. From a very young age, he was already famous for his literary excellence. The governor-general of Indochine Robin was impressed by Lãng’s essays and provided him the scholarship to help further his education after high school.
Starting from 1930, Nguyễn Tiến Lãng worked as a press attaché for the Resident-Superior of Tonkin, then for the Residence of the Governor-General of French Indochina. He also taught literature at many colleges and wrote newspapers for different outlets across Vietnam and in Paris as well. From 1934, he served as the governor-general’s secretary, and 2 years later, he was appointed by the emperor Bảo Đại to be the Director of Archives, Research, Translation and Press at the Royal Palace, and concurrently as the secretary of the empress Nam Phương. In 1939, he accompanied the emperor and the empress to France. On this occasion, enrolled at the University of Literature and the College of Practice (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes) in Paris.
In 1940, he married Ms. Phạm Thị Ngoạn, daughter of Phạm Quỳnh. Ms. Ngoạn later in life worked as a literary researcher who published several papers in French on Nguyễn Du’s The tale of Kiều, and on Phạm Quỳnh and his Nam Phong magazine.
Nguyễn Tiến Lãng continued to work for the government as a functionary in Nha Trang, Huế and Hội An. Until 1945, he was promoted to phủ doãn 府尹 or the governor of Đà Lạt. However, the August Revolution soon broke out and on his trip to Huế, Nguyễn Tiến Lãng was captured by the Việt Minh, together with his father-in-law Phạm Quỳnh. Only until 1951 was he released. He returned to Hanoi and, with his family, emigrated to France in early 1952. As the empress Nam Phương lived in Cannes, Nguyễn Tiến Lãng came back to work for her from 1952 to 1956. After that, he worked for the Ministry of National Education in France, specializing in philology and Vietnamese history, until retirement. Nguyễn Tiến Lãng passed away in 1976 in Antony, a suburb of Paris.
Pages françaises (Những đoản văn tiếng Pháp), Tân Dân thư quán, Hà Nội, 1929.
Indochine la douce (Ðông dương êm dịu), Nam Ký, Hà Nội, 1936.
Mariage de la plume et du pinceau (Kết hợp bút văn và bút vẽ), tham luận văn học, nxb. Nha Học Chánh Ðông Pháp, Direction de l’ instruction publique, Hà Nội, 1936.
Les chansons annamites (Ca dao An Nam), nxb. Asie Nouvelles Illustrées, Hà Nội, 1937.
Pétrus Trương Vĩnh Ký, lettré et apôtre franco-annamite (Trương Vĩnh Ký, học giả và sứ đồ Pháp Việt), nxb. Bùi Huy Tín, Huế, 1937.
Dans les forêts et dans les rizières (Trong rừng ngoài ruộng), tập truyện ngắn, nxb. Hương Sơn, Hà Nội, 1939.
Tiếng ngày xanh, tập truyện ngắn, nxb. Hương sơn, Hà Nội, 1939, nxb. Rừng Trúc in lại có sửa chữa, Paris, 1979.
La France que j’ai vue (Nước Pháp dưới mắt tôi), nxb. Ðắc Lập, Huế, 1940.
Les chemins de la révolte (Những nẻo dường nổi dậy), tiểu thuyết tự truyện, nxb. Amiot Dumont, Paris, 1953, Ý Việt, Paris, 1989.
La colline des abricotiers (Mai Lĩnh), truyện ngắn và cổ tích, nxb Rừng Trúc – Présence d’Asie, Paris, 1979…
Tình xưa, tác giả tự dịch truyện ngắn Eurydice của mình, nxb. Ðông Tây – Dương Tự Quán, Hà nội, 1932.
Tây phương tình sử, dịch Les lais de Marie de France, Hà Nội, 1934.
Amour d’Annam, dịch thơ Hoa tiên sang tiếng Pháp, nxb. Ðắc Lập, Huế, 1939.