A research guide in association with the State Library of Victoria exhibition. This guide provides links and research advice to help you find out more about Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, and the history, politics and art of 19th-century France.
This guide will help you find information on French writer and artist Victor Hugo and his influence on 19th century art, literature and politics
The Library's exhibition Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage showcases many ways in which Hugo informs 19th-century and contemporary art, literature and performance. This guide supplements the exhibition and offers further ways for Library patrons to explore our collections on this subject.
Click on the tabs at the top of this guide to see print and electronic resources in specific subject areas.
Some biographical resources are outlined below.
Illustrated Australian News
Victor Hugo was born on February 26, 1802 in Besançon, France. Most well known for his novels, he was also notable for his poetry, drama and ink drawings. His first novel Han d'Islande (Hans of Iceland) was published in 1823.
Hugo became the figurehead of the romantic literary movement with the plays Cromwell (1827) and Hernani (1830). For more on Hernani see Criticism and reviews.
In 1831 he published Notre-Dame de Paris (The hunchback of Notre Dame) which remains enormously popular and has been adapted for opera, theatre, film and television.
He was active in the volatile politics of 19th-century France. In December 1851 Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) led a coup d'état and established himself as Emperor. This action was fiercely opposed by Hugo who escaped France at the time of the coup, and lived in exile on Jersey and then Guernsey for 19 years despite an amnesty offer.
His great masterpiece Les Misérables was published in 1862, more than a decade after he commenced writing. From first publication it was a huge success.
He returned to France in 1870. In that year Napoleon III was removed as emperor and interned by the Prussians, when France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War.
Victor Hugo died on May 22, 1885. Obituaries on his death were published in newspapers in Australia, and across the world. He influenced, and continues to influence, literature, theatre and the creative arts.
Maison de Victor Hugo
Paris, past and present p 150
(Now a Victor Hugo Museum)
The resources listed below can be accessed within the Library, or outside the Library if you are a Victorian registered with the Library. See the biographical entries on Victor Hugo in these databases.
One of the most notable exhibits in the Victor Hugo: Les Misérables –From Page to Stage exhibition is Hugo's original manuscript of Les Misérables.