Victor Hugo – Career, Marriage and Facts About The French Literary Icon

It takes a brave and courageous person to have the kind of impact Victor Hugo had in his days, an impact which is still regarded today. France and the world at large didn’t see a lot of talents like that possessed by the renowned French poet, novelist and playwright Victor Hugo. Though he made his own share of impact as a human rights activist, he is basically recognized for his craftiness in poetry. He launched into fame through his poetic write-ups and was able to use this platform to dish out books which gave him a voice to air his convictions.

Victor Hugo had a lot of pieces to his name, the most significant of them are Les Contemplations, Les Misérables, and Notre-Dame de Paris. He left a legacy that is still felt in France decades after he passed on.

Biography of Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo didn’t have the best start in life; he was born into a broken home which was only a glimpse into the stormy life that awaited him. The renowned poet was given the name Victor Marie Vicomte Hugo at birth in Besancon, located at the Eastern part of France on February 26, 1802. Hugo was brought up in the Christian catholic way, thanks to his mother Sophie Trebuchet who was a devout Catholic. His father Joseph Léopold Sigisbert Hugo, on the other hand, was a republican and a military officer who served under Napoleon.

His family went through turbulent times during his childhood days because of the nature of the work his father was involved in that had him always traveling. Besides that also, there was a lot of disparity in the views he and his wife had with regards to their religious and political convictions. Following the disagreements, Hugo’s mother Sophie decided to move away with their three children; Abel Joseph Hugo, Eugene Hugo, and Victor Hugo. While she raised the three on her own, she nurtured Victor’s creative abilities into poetry writing.

Facts About The French Poet


At the young age of 17, Victor Hugo alongside Joseph Hugo his brother created a journal that they named Conservateur Littéraire. There, Victor was able to publish his write-ups alongside those of his friends. One of his first poems; Odes et Poésies Diverses was a hit for which he received a royal pension from Louis XVIII. This work also helped open the doors to several other poems that streamed in. Furthermore, the release of another classical piece Odes et Ballades got the people confident in his creative ability. Soon after, he started airing his political views about the monarch and Republican system.

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The years 1822 to 1829 saw a series of publications from Victor Hugo among which is his debut full-length book, ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ which got national recognition even in Europe. Not long after its publication in 1831, it was translated to other languages to better reach the vast variety of readers who have picked interest in the young writer’s works. In the early 1840s, Hugo began to write the popular book ‘Les Miserables’.

Victor Hugo gradually started veering into politics with the recognition his books got him and in 1848, he was elected to become a member of the French Parliament. His political views were tolerated until 1851 when Napoleon III obtained power. Hugo had to flee to Guernsey to escape a coup. He was there until a change in Government that led to his return in 1870. During his time abroad, he finished writing Les Miserables, which was published in 1862 and was a huge success.

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Till date, Les Miserables is considered one of the most classical pieces of the 19th century. The write-ups that followed his return from exile were rather sad, gloomy and dark. It is said that Hugo took a plunge into the dark side, in an attempt to communicate with spirits. His subsequent works had themes relating to evil, darkness, God, Satan, death and the likes.

Hugo’s Marriage

Back to 1822, Victor Hugo got married to his childhood friend Adele Foucher despite his mother’s disapproval of the young damsel. They had 5 kids together; Adèle, Charles, François-Victor, Léopold, and Léopoldine. During his exile in England, his wife and children were gripped by depression and soon, his son Charles and daughter Adele developed mental conditions. Victor Hugo’s wife Adele eventually moved away to Brussels where she lived until she passed on in 1968. Hugo’s mistress Juliette, however, stayed with him through the exile till their return to France.

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Eight years into his return to his homeland, Hugo was diagnosed with pneumonia and had but a short time to live. His mistress Juliette died in 1883 and 2 years after her death, on May 22, 1885, Victor Hugo died.

Other Facts about the Literary Icon Victor Hugo

The street he lived on was renamed after him on his 80th birthday; in honor and recognition of his works. It was called Victor Hugo Avenue.

His burial was honorary; his body was laid in state at the Arc De Triomphe and the ceremony took place at the Pantheon.

One of Hugo’s greatest inspirers in his field is François-René de Chateaubriand, the novelist who started off the era of Romanticism in French literature.

He remained in England till the end of the reign of Napoleon III. Despite the amnesty that was granted him and his likes, Hugo refused to return to France until he was certain that there was a change in Government.

He wrote his last novel at the age of 72, it was titled ‘Quatrevingt-treize’ (Ninety-Three). It was published in 1874.

Victor Hugo studied to become a lawyer, but his passion for writing displaced the worth of his certification.

The poet lost a handful of relatives during his lifetime. Before his death, he witnessed the death of his wife, his daughter and her husband, his two sons and his mistress Juliette.

Hugo is also recognized as a saint amongst the Cao Đài religion of Vietnam.

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