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Victor-Marie Hugo, better known as, Victor Hugo, was a French Romantic Writer and a politician. His writing career lasted for nearly sixty years in which he excelled in all genres and forms of writing. He’s regarded as one of the greatest French writers of all times and as the legendary author of all time classics, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831) and Les Misérables (1862).
Victor Hugo was born on 26 February 1802 atBesançon, Doubs, France, to Joseph Léopold Sigisbert Hugo (1774–1828), a general in the Napoleonic army, and Sophie Trébuchet (1772–1821). He was the youngest of the their three sons. Abel Joseph (1798–1855) and Eugène (1800–1837) were his elder brothers. Victor Hugo’s grandpa was a timber merchant in Nancy, Lorraine, where the Hugo family originated. At the age of fourteen, Léopold enlisted in the French Revolutionary Army. He was an atheist and a staunch admirer of the republic established when the monarchy was abolished in 1792. However, Sophie, Victor’s mother, would declare her children to be Protestants despite her loyalty to the overthrown dynasty. They got married in 1797 at Châteaubriant, a little town near Nantes.
Since Hugo’s father was an army officer, the family regularly switched between posting.The King of Spain Joseph Bonaparte, made his father Leopold, a Count Hugo de Cogolludo y Sigüenza, which wasn’t recognized in France. Hugo then adopted the title of viscount, and on April 13, 1845, he was made a peer of France as “Vicomte Victor Hugo.”
Since family got tired of shifting their residence frequently, Sophie temporarily separated from Leopold and lived with her children in Paris under the guardianship of General Victor Fanneau de La Horie, Hugo’s godfather who served in the army along with General Hugo during the campaign in Vendee.The family reunited with Leopold, who wasthen Colonel Hugo, the governor of the Avellino province, in October 1807. Giuseppe de Samuele Cagnazzi, the older brother of Italian scholar Luca de Samuele Cagnazzi, taught mathematics to Victor at that city. Sophie learned that Leopold Hugo was cheating on her and had a secret affair with an Englishwoman called Catherine Thomas.
Hugo’s father was soon summoned to Spain to take part in the Peninsular War. In 1808, Madame Hugo and her kids were brought back to Paris, where they settled in an abandoned mansion on the left bank of the Seine at 12 Impasse des Feuillantines, a former convent. Victor Fanneau de La Horie, who had been sentenced to death for conspiring to restore the Bourbons, was hiding in a chapel in the back of the garden. He became Victor and his siblings’ mentor.
The family moved to Spain to be with their father in 1811. While Sophie, who was now legally separated from her husband, returned to Paris on her own, Victor and his brothers were sent to the Real Colegio de San Antonio de Abad in Madrid for their academic studies. Victor Fanneau de La Horie was detained and killed in 1812. Victor and Eugene were separated from their mother in February 1815, and their father then sent them to the Pension Cordier, a private boarding school in Paris. Victor and Eugène attended Lycée Louis le Grand while attending the Pension Cordier for three years.
His exception writing skills came to be noticed when he wrote a poem for the competition organised by the Academie Française in 1817. He received appreciation as the Academicians could hardly believe that he was only fifteen. He moved in with his mother at 18 rue des Petits-Augustins, the following year and joined the law school. He fell in love with his childhood friend Adèle Foucher, against his mother’s wishes and got secretly engaged. His mother, Sophie, died in June 1821. His father married his mistress Catherine Thomas within a month and he too married Adele in 1822. Victor collaborated with his brothers in 1819 to publish a periodical, Le Conservateur littéraire. Besides literature, he was also interested in arts and politics. Hugo’s standing in the realm of French arts and literature was eventually cemented in 1841 when he was finally elected to the Académie française after three attempted failures.
King Louis-Philippe nominated Hugo to enter the Upper Chamber of the Parliament as a a pair de France in 1845, where he advocated for press freedom and Polish self-government while opposing the death sentence and social injustice.
Hugo was chosen as a conservative member of the National Assembly of the Second Republic in 1848. He broke with the conservatives in 1849 when he delivered a well-known speech demanding an end to suffering and poverty. Other addresses advocated for free public education for all children and universal suffrage. Hugo was well-known worldwide for his support of the death penalty’s abolition.
There are around 4,000 drawings by Hugo. Drawing was Hugo’s casual interest at first, but right before he went into exile, when he decided to give up writing to focus on politics, it became more significant to him. Between 1848 and 1851, drawing was his exclusive form of expression.
His personal life took a downward turn after losing his first child, Léopold, in 1823, as an infant. He had four more children, Léopoldine born on 28th August, 1824, followed by Charles on 4 November 1826, François-Victor on 28 October 1828, and Adèle on 28 July 1830.
His daughter, Léopoldine, met an untimely demise, in the year 1843, at the tender age of 19 after her marriage, when she drowned in the the Seine at Villequier as her boat overturned and her young husband died while trying to save her. This was a great setback to Hugo who composed a poem “À Villequier” to express his shock and grief. His wife died on August 1868. His daughter, Adele, was committed to an insane asylum and also lost his two sons.
Victor Hugo passed away on 22 May 1885 (aged 83) due to pneumonia at Paris, France, leaving behind the rich legacy of his outstanding work for his readers and admirers who still remember him as a great hero.
His notable work :
His posthumous publications
- Théâtre en liberté (1886)
- La Fin de Satan (1886)
A lovely short poem by Victor Hugo
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