French Literature

French Authors
  • Victor Hugo
  • Marcel Proust
  • Jules Verne
  • Charles Baudelaire
  • Molière
  • François Rabelais

Victor Hugo (1802 - 1885)

Victor Marie Hugo, French poet, novelist and playwright, was born in Besançon on February 26, 1802. Educated in Paris, he showed signs of his future as a writer at a very early age. At the age of 15 he was honored by the Académie Française for a poem and by the age of 20 he had already written a tragedy.

He began writing poems and odes, novels and also drama. The years that would turn out to be Hugo's most productive spanned from 1829-1843. Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi adapted Hugo's "Hernani" for his opera "Ernani" and also "The King Amuses Himself", for the opera Rigoletto. One of Hugo's greatest achievements, the historical novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", set in 15th century France, earned him much acclaim and eventually an election into the Académie Française.

Hugo began taking up active participation in politics. Starting off as a Royalist, he was made peer of France by King Louis Philippe, however by the time of the Revolution in 1848, Hugo was a Republican. After the unsuccessful revolt against President Louis Napoleon in 1851, Hugo fled to Belgium and later began a 15-year-long exile, living on Guernsey Island.

While in exile, Hugo produced many literary works, among which is his longest and perhaps most famous works of all, "Les Miserables", a novel depicting the social injustice of 19th France. He returned to France in 1870 where he continued participating in politics, forming part of the National Assembly and later the Senate.

A French writer who contributed enormously to the literary Romantic Movement in France, Hugo died at the age of 83 in Paris.