The 31st October 1855 saw the arrival of the literary icon that will forever be etched into Guernsey’s history – Victor Hugo.
168 years ago today, Hugo sailed into St Peter Port Harbour after being exiled from France and expelled from Jersey.
He wrote in a letter to his wife, ‘even in the rain and mist, the arrival at Guernsey is splendid.’
Hugo fell in love with the island immediately and soon made Guernsey his home. The 15 years he spent on the island were some of the most productive of his life and the inspiration he took from the landscape of Guernsey is well documented.
He wrote six books during his time in Guernsey, including Les Misérables and Toilers of the Sea, which he dedicated to the island and its people cementing his bond with Guernsey. As well as his novels, Hugo also wrote an assortment of poetry and essays during his time on the island and created various artworks.
Hugo’s connection to the island though extended beyond the pages of his novels. Taking an active role in the community, he would often swim in the bays near his house such as Fermain and Havelet.
Hugo and his wife also invited local poor children for a weekly hot meal at Hauteville House. He was a humanitarian and held strong values surrounding charity and giving.
He secured his place in the community’s consciousness with the creation of his iconic residence, Hauteville House. Hauteville was designed by Hugo and is a unique architectural site. It is a work of art in itself and a widely beloved tourist attraction.
Today the Victor Hugo Centre team celebrates the anniversary of Hugo’s arrival in Guernsey and the legacy he left for the island.