Biography

Herbert Bird Tourtel

11th September 2020
This November it will be 100 years since the first publication of a Rupert Bear story in the Daily Express newspaper. The intrepid little bear made his debut on November 8 2020; not a comic-strip, not a cartoon, but a ‘drawing’. Newsprint was short, and his creators were limited to one frame a day, either one large panel or a row of four small drawings. Occasionally the story was written in prose with a little marginal decoration. Rupert Bear was the invention of Mary Tourtel, a book illustrator, who worked on Rupert until he was handed over to Alfred Bestall in 1935. She was born Mary Caldwell in Canterbury, Kent, in 1874. Her father and brother were celebrated stained-glass artists and stonemasons who were associated with Canterbury Cathedral for many years, while another brother moved to South Africa, where he became a well-known painter of animals. Mary went to art school and became a professional illustrator, producing her first books in 1897. She died in 1948 and is buried with her husband in Canterbury. It is through her husband, Herbert Bird Tourtel, that Rupert Bear comes to be linked to Guernsey.

Sunk by U-boat

21st June 2019
'Crew landed on Lihou island after ship had been sunk by U-boat.'  An article by Carel Toms from the Guernsey Star of 27 December, 1951, in the Priaulx Library Newspaper Collection.

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: 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…

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