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.
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.
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…
From Charles Hugo's Chez Victor Hugo par un passant, [Victor Hugo at home, by a passer-by], Cadart & Luquet, Paris: 1864, published anonymously and decorated with 12 etchings by Maxime Lalanne.
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.
‘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.
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.
Jean-Baptiste Charcot, ‘the Polar Gentleman.’ Doctor, sportsman, Olympic medallist, polar explorer, friend of Captain Scott, and husband of Victor Hugo's grand-daughter Jeanne, this admirable French hero reserved a special place for Guernsey.
Once a magnificent farm house with 15 bedrooms, made of the best blue granite, said to be haunted, the old house of the La Marche family in St Martin's saw highs and lows. Its story ended with demolition by the Occupying Forces in 1944, and the memory of the house itself and a reputed connection with Victor Hugo became shrouded in mystery. It is quite possible that Victor Hugo admired the house - he certainly would have admired its wonderful situation, and is quoted as saying (in the advertisement above from a 1915 tourist brochure), 'Live at Icart, live forever!,' but there is no evidence he ever set foot in it. His family, however, were indeed intimately connected with it.
Opinions on the building of the Castle Emplacement from Victor Hugo and his son Charles. Charles took the accompanying photograph, The Castle Emplacement under construction, c 1856; he also took a fine study of St Catherine's Breakwater in Jersey some years earlier. (Hugo family friend Auguste Vacquerie was also an excellent photographer, and may possibly be responsible for this photograph, but Charles shared his father's appreciation of the effort and skill required to build these types of structures, and of the progress and growth they embodied, and is likely to have found this and the Jersey breakwater an appealing subject). The photograph is in the collection of Paris Musées: Construction de la digue reliant le château Cornet au port, attribuée à Charles Hugo, 1855-6.