HUGO, Victor

(1802 - 1885)
“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.”

Born in France during the political turbulence of the early 19th century, Victor Marie Hugo reacted against the rules and dogmas of the old established order, embracing instead the sensibilities and passion of French Romanticism, whose essential message was that the imagination of the individual should determine the form and content of all art.  This, combined with his passionate belief in social equality, permeated all his writing. 

Although he studied law, Hugo always wanted to write and, encouraged by his mother, he founded the literary journal Conservateur Litteraire in which he published both his own poems and the work of his friends.  His books of verse, published during the 1820s, were well received and as a result he became a leading figure of the French Romantic movement.  His first full-length novel, Notre-Dame de Paris (often known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame) was published in 1831 and was instantly an enormous success.  It was at this time that he also began work on another novel about social misery and injustice, though Les Miserables would not be published until 1862.  Although often disliked by the establishment, Hugo’s novels were hugely popular with the public and helped to influence political change.

Hugo’s life was much like one of his own novels - his vociferous Republicanism led to his fifteen year exile in the Channel Islands, he had a long term mistress in addition to a succession of lovers and, tragically, his eldest daughter and two of his sons predeceased him. He died from pneumonia a few months after his 83rd birthday, and his reputation was such that he was awarded a hero’s funeral, before being buried in the Pantheon alongside his friend and fellow author, Alexandre Dumas.

Hugo remains a giant of French Literature today, his works still resonating with his Republican fervor.

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HUGO, Victor


Notre-Dame De Paris

HUGO, Victor