Biography

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.

Victor Hugo and Guernsey: Tapner's death mask

8th March 2019
‘Tu ne tueras pas.’ Pas d’exception. ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ No exceptions. [Victor Hugo, 19 Feb. 1854, Marine Terrace, Jersey]. This death mask was kept by Victor Hugo in the Billiard Room in Hauteville House along with his famous drawing of Tapner, 'Le Pendu,' or 'The Hanged Man.' The Billiard Room was also home to portraits of the Hugo family, other favourite drawings, and maps of meaningful places in Hugo's life. The importance of these memoirs of Tapner to Hugo is thus obvious: they were a permanent reminder of the cruelty of man to man, and of his (for him) abject failure to save Tapner from the scaffold. In addition Hugo blamed himself for Tapner's execution, believing that his ardent intervention had actually been counter-productive - that the French government had pressed upon their British allies not to give in to Hugo's wishes, and that the British had complied. This striking photograph of the mask is by the late Guernsey photographer Carel Toms, taken in 1975, and is part of the Guernsey Photographic Archive held at the Priaulx Library.

The last voyage of the 'Pourquoi Pas?'/Le dernier voyage du 'Pourquoi Pas?'

6th March 2019
This account of the wreck of the Pourquoi Pas, an event greeted with immense dismay in Guernsey, where Commander Jean-Baptiste Charcot was a great favourite, was kindly written by Cédric Bail, assistant curator at Hauteville House, for the Priaulx Library 'Hauteville House and the Hugo family' exhibition of summer 2018. His original French text is included below.

Canon Anselm Bourde de la Rogerie

3rd October 2017
The obituary of a learned and popular priest, who had spent 50 years in Guernsey. From The Guernsey Press, 16th December 1954. Anslem Bourde de la Rogerie was an erudite man who wrote learned articles on the history of the island. He gathered together invaluable information about Victor Hugo and the time he spent in Guernsey and published it in 1944 as Victor Hugo à Guernesey.

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