14th June 1927

Victor Hugo’s house is opened to the public

Victor Hugo lived in Guernsey for 15 years. He bought his home, Hauteville House, after leaving Jersey while in exile from his native France. He wrote many of his best-known works there.

Hauteville House

Following his death, his heirs donated Hauteville House to the City of Paris. This could only be done after Guernsey’s Lieutenant Governor, sitting in the Royal Court, raised no objections to its acquisition by a non-Brit.

Memorial to a famous author

The heirs had wanted it to be turned into a museum celebrating his life and work. That is exactly what the City did once it was in possession of the property. On 13 June, with the work complete, a delegation from the Paris Municipal Council left for Guernsey. They would officially open the museum the following day.

Until its donation to Paris, the home had been the property of Jean Negreponte (nee Hugo), the author’s granddaughter. She said at the time that she was sure Victor would have wanted the home to be donated and used as a memorial to his achievements.

A generous bequest

The Guardian reported that,

The house is in the same condition as when Victor Hugo left it to return to France after the declaration of the Republic in 1870, and it is estimated to be worth, with its contents, about £20,000.

That would equate to around £875,000 today allowing for inflation, but without taking into account any appreciation of property values. The Paris Municipal Council awarded the Hugo family a gold medal in recognition of its generosity.

Hugo wrote several of his most notable works at Hauteville House, including Les Miserables and Toilers of the Sea, the latter of which he set on Guernsey and dedicated to the island.


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