February 26, 2012 - Happy Birthday, Victor Hugo

He wrote such works as Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and a whole lot of poetry.

Born in France on this day in 1802, Victor Hugo grew up at a time when France was in a fair amount of chaos: Napoleon was proclaimed Emperor when he was a toddler, and his father was a high-ranking officer in Napoleon's army. However, Hugo's mom was a Royalist who apparently hung out with people who tried to oust Napoleon! When Hugo was a teen, a Bourbon was crowned king once again. Years later Napoleon III took over as ruler of France in a coup d'etat. (Napoleon II, son of the Napoleon, never actually ruled France.) At that point, Hugo exiled himself to Belgium and the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. He only left Guernsey when Napoleon III was kicked out of power.

In addition to being one of the most famous authors in history, Victor Hugo is listed as being a visual artist, statesman, human rights activist, and promoter of the Romantic movement—the revolt of artists and writers against aristocratic ways and also, to some extent at least, against the scientific viewpoint of nature.

Read some of Hugo's words:

  • A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.”
  • All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
  • As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.”
  • Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.”

Celebrate Hugo!

  • KidsFreeSouls offers a short Hugo biography and online versions of his works. 
  • One of Hugo's most famous books is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Watch the Disney movie...or enjoy these coloring pages from the movie.

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