* 1802 Besancon
† 1885 Paris
Among the 19th century French writers Victor Hugo occupies an outstanding position. Born in the French town of Besançon on 26 February, 1802, Victor Hugo's literary talent became obvious from an early point on and he celebrated first achievements. In the following, Victor Hugo became one of the leading representatives of French romantic literature.
Victor Hugo was active not only as a writer, he also committed his life to political activities. He joined the constituent national assembly for the Bonapartists in 1848, as well as the legislative in 1849. Just two years later Napoleon III. disempowered the national assembly and appointed himself as the new ruler - Victor Hugo was forced to go into exile to Brussels and eventually to the Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey, where Hugo made political writings. It took some 20 years before Victor Hugo returned to Paris, where he became active in politics up until his death on 22 May, 1885.
Victor Hugo achieved literary merits from an early point on. A collection of his poems ("Odes et poésies diverses") was published as early as in 1822. The historic verse drama "Cromwell" (1827) made Victor Hugo an intellectual giant within the school of romantic poets, as the preface, the so-called "Préface de Cromwell", was celebrated as a revelation of new aesthetics in literature. Its guiding ideas characterized the following historical dramas "Marion de Lorme" (1829) and "Hernani ou l’Honneur Castillan" (1830). Particularly the latter led to strong disputes between the conservative and the romantic camp represented by Théophile Gautier. The play "Ruy Blas" from 1838, expresses the new aesthetics, which turned away from an ideal concept of beauty.
In exile he wrote the novel "Les Misérables", which was published in 1862 with illustrations by Émile Bayard. "Les Misérables" and "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" (released in 1831 under the title "Notre-Dame de Paris") count among Victor Hugo's most popular works up until the present day.