|Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
He was born in Besançon, on 26th February 1802.
In 1822 the first volume of Odes and Ballads is published (the second appears in 1826). In between these two works, the first two novels were published: Han of Iceland (1823) and Bug Jargal (1825). Hugo becomes the guiding light of a group of young writers called Le Cénacle.
The Preface to Cromwell (1827), in which he argues for the romantic rebirth of drama, soon becomes the Romantic manifesto. Marion Delorme, drama on a French courtisan, is banned by censorship. Hugo replies with Hernani: at the première, a harsh fight explodes, but in the end it is the romantic vision of the theatre of Hugo to prevail.
Between 1829 and 1843, he is very productive: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame(1831) and several poetry books, such as Les Orientales (1829), Autumn Leaves, (1831) Songs at Daybreak (1835), Inner Voices (1837) and Sunbeams and Shadows (1840).
In 1833 Hugo meets Juliette Drouet, who will remain his lover until her death. In 1843, Léopoldine, one of Hugo's daughters, drowns. This loss grieves him profoundly. A change intervenes: without abandoning literature, Hugo gets involved in politics.
In 1851 he organizes the resistence against the 2nd December coup d'état of the Prince Louis-Napoleon. Obliged to flee, he seeks refuge on the isle of Jersey, then on the neighbouring one of Guernesey, where he will remain for 15 years. While there he writes, among others, Contemplations (1856) and Les Miserables (1862). The defeat in the 1870 war against Germany and the subsequent fall of the Empire, enable Hugo to regain Paris and the political activity. His fame continues to grow until his death: 3 millions pepole are present at his funeral. He is buried in the Pantheon, together with Zola.
A critic defined him as 'the most powerful mind of the Romantic movement."