Victor Hugo and Guernsey: My school years at Elizabeth College, by Jean Hugo

10th May 2019
My school years at Elizabeth College, by Jean Hugo (1894-1984), from his autobiographical work, Le Regard de la mémoire, Paris: Actes Sud, 1983. Fond memories of Guernsey and characters such as 'Soapy Sam' and 'Peewee' are expressed in painterly language by the artist and great-grandson of Victor Hugo, who was a boarder at Elizabeth College. The illustration is of a drawing made by Jean's stepfather, René-Georges Hermann-Paul (1874-1940), of Jean, his mother Pauline, and the valet de chambre arriving for Jean's first term at Elizabeth College in 1907. This drawing was sold at Christie's, Paris, in 2012.

Victor Hugo and Guernsey: Léon Daudet: Hauteville-House just after Hugo’s death

8th May 2019
From Léon Daudet's Ghosts and the Living, chapter 6. Léon Daudet was the son of the celebrated author, Alphonse Daudet. His father was a friend of Victor Hugo, especially in Hugo's later years. Léon was an intimate of the Hugo family; he was the same age as Hugo's grandchildren, Georges and Jeanne. Handsome and brilliant, he was Georges' best friend and married Jeanne when they were both just of age, but he was ever aware of his (comparative) poverty and his irascible and vicious character was such that the marriage did not last long. He began as a young devotee of Victor Hugo, but as he grew older his opinion as expressed in his writing changed to implacable hatred.

Victor Hugo and Guernsey: Thomas Guille

4th April 2019
A philanthropist and island patriot, whose career, along with his childhood friend Frederick Mansell Allès, is ‘an illustration of the power of faith, hard work, and perseverance’ [Henri Boland, 1904.] The portrait is attributed to Frank Brookes and is in the collection of the Guernsey Museums and Art Galleries.

Victor Hugo and Guernsey: Jean Hugo

3rd April 2019
Jean Hugo was the great-grandson of Victor Hugo. A talented artist and theatre designer, he was a schoolboy at Elizabeth College in Guernsey and made later visits to the island, of which he was very fond, including attending the inauguration of Jean Boucher's celebrated statue of the poet in 1914. The Library has a signed copy of his autobiography, Le Regard de la mémoire, which he gave to Roger Martin, the curator of Hauteville House at the time of his visit in 1977; Roger Martin's ancestor was, coincidentally, one of Victor Hugo's 'poor children.' The photograph is courtesy of the Guernsey Press.

Victor Hugo and Guernsey: Georges Victor-Hugo

3rd April 2019
Georges Victor-Hugo (1868-1925) was the son of Victor Hugo’s eldest son, Charles, and the young Alice Lehaene, an orphan who had been under the guardianship of family friend and political activist Jules Simon. Hugo doted on Georges and his sister Jeanne and after the tragic and unexpected death of their father at the age of only 44 Hugo became their guardian and played a large part in their upbringing. They are the subject of his immensely popular poetry collection, L’Art d’être grand-père (1877). Georges was a genial man and a talented artist, who was fond of Guernsey and spent…

Victor Hugo and Guernsey: Algernon Charles Swinburne, King of Sark

22nd March 2019
Like the French artist Auguste Renoir, the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne visited Guernsey and Sark in order to follow in the footsteps of his hero and fellow poet, Victor Hugo. He fell in love with Sark and wrote poems describing his time there, so much so that he declared he would like to be king of the island. The portrait of a young Swinburne is by Rossetti — Swinburne had a mane of flaming red hair. It was drawn in August 1860 (image from the Rossetti Archive from a print held in the Delaware Art Museum). There is a selection of his Guernsey poems with reference to Victor Hugo at the bottom of this page.

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