Adolphe Tanquerey was born in Blainville, France, in 1854 and began his studies at the college of Saint-Lô and then, from 1873, at the Major Seminary of Coutances, until 1875, when he entered the seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris. After two years of study in Rome, he obtained his doctorate in theology in 1878 at the Collegium Divi Thomae (Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum). Having become a priest in the same year, he became a member of the Community of Saint Sulpice.
He then became a professor of dogmatic theology and held various positions, such as that of superior of the seminary of Saint Sulpice. During this time he wrote his two major works: le Synopsis theologiae dogmaticae and Synopsis theologiae moralis et pastoralis.
Because of France’s anti-clerical policy, he retired to the Saint-Sulpice seminary in Issy-les-Moulineaux, where he wrote his most famous work, the Précis de théologie ascétique et mystique (the Spiritual Life), first published in 1924 and republished several times. Translated into several languages, this collection of ascetical and mystical theology has been widely distributed.
In 1926 he retired to Aix-en-Provence, where he resumed his priestly duties until his death, devoting himself constantly to the revision of new textbooks and the writing of smaller publications on spiritual subjects.