Victor Hugo is most well-known for writing Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and is considered one of France's most iconic authors. If Victor Hugo were around today, he'd probably appreciate how globally beloved his work has become.
Not only is Les Misérables one of the highest-grossing Broadway musicals of all time, it also was turned into a film with a star-studded cast. And though he might be a bit surprised by the treatment The Hunchback of Notre-Dame received at the hands of Disney, he'd probably get a laugh out of it, too.
Victor Hugo, who was born February 26th, 1802, was a larger than life character in many ways. Here are 5 bizarre and interesting facts about the rather eccentric French writer:
1. He wrote in the nude
Victor Hugo may have been something of a genius, but even he suffered from the occasional malady which plagues writers everywhere. Apparently, Hugo was prone to getting easily distracted. In order to combat writer's block, he would ask that his clothes be locked away and he be left naked in a room to write. If, and only if, Victor Hugo finished his writing for the day would he be allowed to have his clothes back.
2. He was one of the world's most highly paid authors
Although he wrote about the poor and downtrodden, Victor Hugo was never actually poor himself. In fact, Hugo was so confident in his worth as a writer that, when negotiating the sale of Les Misérables with his publisher, he famously stated he wanted to be paid more than anyone else ever had to write a book. Rumor has it that he ended up receiving 300,000 francs (around £3m today)—the highest payment ever for a work of literature.
3. He was a major celebrity
Victor Hugo was not a humble author by any means, which is understandable considering the street he lived on was named after him—while he was still alive! Fans would take home pebbles he stepped on as mementos, and Hugo would often spend dinner parties listing for his guests list all the ways in which he was superior to every other French writer. To say Victor Hugo believed his own hype is an understatement.
4. He had a strange party trick
There was nothing Victor Hugo loved more than a good party, and he regularly hosted dinner parties for upward of 30 guests at a time. Hugo had a rather unique party trick he liked to put on display during these rambunctious get-togethers: he'd pop an entire orange in his mouth, fill his cheeks with as many sugar lumps as possible, then churn it all up before swallowing it down with the help of two glasses of kirsch.
5. He was destined for an interesting life
Victor Hugo's father was fond of telling his son that the way he was conceived foreshadowed a very unique life. In May of 1801, his parents, Leopold and Sophie, were 3000 feet above sea level when he was conceived, and Victor went on to fulfill his father's prophecy of an incredible life. Today, the exact location of Victor Hugo's conception is marked with a stone tablet that says: IN THIS PLACE / ON 5 FLOREAL, YEAR 9 / VICTOR HUGO / WAS CONCEIVED.
Are you a fan of Victor Hugo's work?
Tell us if you love the Les Misérables musical, movie, or book in the comment section below.
And take a look at our stunning Les Misérables poster, created using the text
from Victor Hugo's most famous work.