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.
13th March 2019
Execution of M J F Béasse, For the Crime of Infanticide. A handbill from 1830 in the Library collection, a gruesome souvenir of the notorious crime committed by a young French nobleman in the vicinty of Guernsey's Ruettes Brayes, translated from the original French.
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.
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.
6th March 2019
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.
11th January 2019
Transcribed by De Guérin in one of his black-bound notebooks (Staff): 'Various MSS 1500-1606.'
7th January 2019
From John Baskett's The Acts of Tonnage and Poundage, and Rates of Merchandize &c, London, 1731.
13th November 2018
From Ferdinand Brock Tupper's History of Guernsey, printed by Stephen Barbet, New Street, Guernsey, 1854, p. 434. 'From the MS of a Guernsey jurat, now deceased, written in 1839 or 1840, we extract the following:'
7th November 2018
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.
2nd November 2018
List of photographs in Vols. XI-XIII of this invaluable journal,which can be consulted at the Library. As listed in the original publication. The Library has original photographic prints by one of the main contributors of photographs at this period, S M Henry.
31st October 2018
This invaluable publication is available for consultation at the Library. A list of its photographic illustrations from vols. III-IV 1947-1949. Please ask for further information. The items may no longer be with the same owners or guardians.
24th October 2018
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.