Son of a senior army officer, Hugo accompanied his family in their frequent travel but
he settled at an early age with his mother in Paris and absorbed her royalist outlook
rather than his father's republican views. He later became increasingly sympathetic to
republicanism and social change, however, being elected to the assembly in 1848; but, from 1851,
he chose exile in Brussels and the Channel Islands during the reign of Napoleon III
returning to France only in 1870.
His precocious talent as a writer brought him early success in poetry and novels and great
influence in the literary world of the nineteenth century. He was also an accomplished
artist and the inspirer of many musical works.
He married in 1822 but his wife and most of his five children predeceased him. After a
stroke and subsequent rapid decline he died in Paris in 1885 and, among great mourning,
was committed at the Pantheon.