Poetry & Novels

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. It was taken in March by Arsène Garnier. (Another very similar set of photographs was taken by a Jerseyman named Henry Frankland in February 1868; the Library has a photographic plate of one of these iconic images.) This particular photograph was popular with the public at the time; they could buy it in the local shops.

January 1793: Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand finds a Guernsey guardian angel

The Romantic author and politician François-René de Chateaubriand, wounded and weakened by dysentery, became extremely ill on a crossing to Jersey, on the way to his native Brittany to join royalist rebels. Chateaubriand managed to make it to Jersey, where he was delivered into the care of his uncle, the Comte de Bédée, but remained very ill for several weeks. He eventually went into exile in London. This is an extract from his memoirs, Les Mémoires d'outre-tombe, Book 10, Chapter III. The 1808 portrait by Girodet-Trioson is in the Museum of Saint-Malo.

A Link with the Past: Ah! Mon beau laurier!

Guernsey's favourite dance, the rather flirtatious 'Ah! mon beau laurier!.' The illustration is of a modern hurdy-gurdy, or 'chifournie,' used in the old days to accompany the dancing: with thanks to Guernsey Post Office, who also produced a superb video of the chifournie being played in Le Hurel barn in Guernsey. The chifournie has been replaced in Guernsey by the fiddle or accordion in modern times.

Maria Rosetti

From St Peter Port to revolution. A request from Angela Jianu* of Warwick University for some research into the birth data of Marie Grant of St Peter Port has revealed the extraordinary history of a Romantic heroine, born here in Guernsey in 1819, daughter of Marie Le Lacheur, descendant of the Le Lacheurs of the Forest, and known today to all Romanians through her depiction as Revolutionary Romania, and because one of the main streets in Bucharest bears her name: Strada Maria Rosetti.