Poetry & Novels

Petition from the single ladies of Guernsey to the King, on the arrival of the Veteran Battalion

23rd January 2017
October 1820. From a commonplace book in the Library, Flowers, from the Garden of Imagination. The compiler of the book is unknown, but there is a cipher on the flyleaf that appears to read 'FDC.' Another poem, To a Lady, is dated 'Guildford, August 2, 1817,' and has the legend, 'On her Friend's leaving Guildford for Ireland, where she is soon to join her.'

Victor Hugo's hairdressers

25th October 2016
In Guernsey in 1858 Victor Hugo became seriously ill with anthrax. It was apparently after recovering from this near-fatal illness that he was persuaded to grow a beard, as a protection for his throat; the first photograph of him sporting a beard was taken on 5 May 1861 on a visit to Brussels, during his trip to finish Les Misérables. For a while he allowed it to grow luxuriantly, but soon smartened it up and adopted the shorter beard now so familiar from photographs. Above is a portrait of one of Hugo's hairdressers, James Le Gallez, by kind permission of Ann Philippo. This is part of the Victor Hugo and Guernsey project.

The wisdom of hindsight, by Madamoiselle Biard

5th October 2015
'Réflexion sage, mais un peu Tardive de Madamoiselle Biard,' by the Reverend Elie du Fresne (b. 1692), from his collected poems, Poésie, written c. 1713-1745. Be prepared for 18th-century attitudes! On the flyleaf of the cover is written, 'These pieces of poetry were copied by her late regretted Father, John de Havilland;' the identity of the Miss de Havilland in question is not known. The illustration is from 'La vieille,' or 'The Old Woman,' a song on just this subject, from Chants et chansons populaires de la France, Paris: Garnier Frères, 1854, in the Library Collection.

A m'en Pierro

17th June 2015
A poem about love, a proposal and marriage, by 'Nannon.' Love conquers all. First published in The Star of June 18, 1881, which provided Guernsey French vocabulary help for readers who might need it. The photograph is a carte de visite style portrait of an unidentified young lady, photographed by Maguire of the Grange, from the Library collection.  If you can tell us who this 'Nannon' was, please let us know!

My little brothers: Christmas with Victor Hugo, 1862

From the Gazette de Guernesey, Saturday 27 December, a report on Hugo's Christmas party for deprived children; a letter from Hugo to his wife, whose idea it all was in the first place; and another to the French publisher Castel, in which he plans to donate the proceeds of a new book of drawings to his poor Guernsey protégés. The editor of the Gazette at this time was Hugo's friend and disciple, Guernseyman Henri Marquand. The photograph accompanying this article is dated 1868 and while it is thought to be by Arsène Garnier, it is possible that the photographer was a Jerseyman named Henry Frankland who was responsible for a set of photographs of Hugo in his garden at Hauteville House in 1868. If it is by Garnier, it dates from the end of March 1868, taken only one week after Frankland's visit. This particular photograph was popular with the public at the time; they could buy it in the local shops.

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