Victor Hugo was born on February 26, 1802, in Besançon, France. Hugo, who began writing very early, received an award from the Académie française at the age of five for one of his poems. In 1822, he published "Odes et poésies diverses," his first volume of poetry, and the novels "Han d'Islande" (1823) and "Bug-Jargal" (1824) as well as other poetry volumes in short order.
In 1827, Victor Hugo wrote "Cromwell," his first historical lyrical drama. The Romantic spokesman Hugo's famous foreword "Préface de Cromwell" became the most important manifesto of the Romantic school. His thoughts on poetic truth set out in the "Cromwell" preface were subsequently put into effect in two more historical dramas, "Marion de Lorme" (1829) and "Hernani ou l'Honneur Castillan" (1830).
At the premiere of "Hernani" on February 25, 1830 in the Comédie-Francaise, an argument erupted in the audience among conservative critics and the Romantic poets led by Théophile Gautier. The argument, which became known as the "Bataille d'Hernani" (Battle of Hernani), has become part of French literary history.
Victor Hugo wrote the novel "Notre-Dame de Paris" from 1831 to 1833, which definitively established his fame as a novelist and initiated his induction into to the Académie française.
Disappointed by the failure of his drama "Les burggraves," he turned away from writing to participate in politics in 1843. He was soon conferred noble status in 1845 as a royalist by King Louis Philippe. He sat in Parliament as a Bonapartist representative in 1848 and became a member of the national legislative assembly in 1849. As a participant in the unsuccessful coup d'état against President Louis Napoleon, the future emperor Napoleon III, Victor Hugo had to flee France in 1851. He traveled through Belgium to the canal island of Guernsey, where he completed his most extensive work - and most famous next to "Notre-Dame de Paris" - the five part novel "Les Misérables."
Victor Hugo returned to Paris in 1870, where he filled several unimportant offices until his death. Hugo died on May 22, 1885, in Paris.