The Fascinating Life of Victor Hugo
“He never went out without a book under his arm, and he often came back with two.”
To celebrate the launch of our new Les Misérables crate, we wanted to dedicate this blog post to its author: Victor Hugo. Creator of wonderful books and a talented poet and artist too. Hugo lived an interesting life - one that’s definitely worth writing about! We’ve taken some of the most significant parts of his story and have written about them below.
There’s an engraved sandstone block marking the spot where Victor Hugo was conceived. (Yes, really.) Hugo’s parents shared some ‘alone time’ together on top of France’s Mont Donon, where you’re able to enjoy views of France, Germany and Switzerland. Hugo’s father enjoyed telling his son that his life was destined to be just as interesting and unique as his conception. He wasn’t wrong!
Victor Hugo was born on 26th February 1802 to General Joseph Léopold Sigisbert Hugo and Sophie Trébuchet. He was the eldest child in a family of five with two younger brothers, Abel and Eugéne.
After periods of travel due to his father’s army career, his mother decided to settle with her sons in Paris to ensure them a good education. The distance and estrangement between the parents led to their eventual separation with his father then deciding that the boys would be better off at a boarding school.
Hugo completed his education with merit; he excelled in both maths and literature, and gained an honorable mention from the Académie Française for his poems along with winning first place in another national poetry competition.
His talent for writing enabled him to earn money soon after leaving school, meaning he was able to focus on the other love of his life: Adéle Foucher.
Victor and Adéle fell in love as teenagers and married in October 1822. (Hugo was known to brag about how the pair had consummated their marriage nine times on their wedding night.) The two had five children together, two daughters and three sons (one of whom died in infancy), and lived with each other for forty two years until her passing.
Despite all of this the pair had a somewhat unusual relationship, with both parties choosing to be unfaithful to the other. Hugo in particular had a ‘colourful’ love life and engaged in a string of extra marital affairs, the most notable of which being with his devoted mistress, Juliette Drouet. Drouet wrote over 20,000 letters to Hugo during their relationship, which lasted fifty years! Hugo was also an avid frequenter of brothels. Paris’ brothels are said to have shut down for a day of mourning following his death.
Writing & Works
Hugo is known for his incredible output of literature: novels, poems, and plays. He established his place as one of the leading writers of France early on in his writing career. He had huge success with his play Hernani and a number of other successful works soon followed. This included his famous novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Hugo was also a well known figure in the political spheres, and campaigned for an end to poverty, free education for all children and the abolition of the death penalty. He was also very vocal in his criticism of Napoleon III, leading to his eventual exile of nineteen years -fifteen of which were spent on the island of Guernsey. It was here that he wrote some of his best works, including both Les Misérables and Toilers of the Sea.
Following the fall of Napoleon in 1870, Hugo returned to France as a national hero. He continued to write there until his death in 1885. Despite his request for a pauper’s funeral, the country gave him one of the grandest send offs in modern history.
You can get your Les Misérables crate right here! Here's a quick look at the covers (yep, both volumes come in the crate)!