ALS, one page, 4.75 x 7.25, November 11, 1859. Handwritten letter from Hauteville House, the Guernsey mansion where he lived during his exile from France. In full (translated): "My son, who translates Shakespeare, has read to me your translation of ‘The Poor People.’ I found it excellent and congratulate you for it. I will be quite pleased to read the article which you are announcing to me, and very happy to be understood and liked by a high intelligence such as yours. What you tell me about the success of ‘The Legend of the Ages’ in England moves me greatly. I have in my soul a deep feeling of brotherhood for the great and free English people. I beg your, Sir, to specially and personally accept the expression of this feeling, and I offer you all my thanks and cordiality." In fine condition, with some minor edge wear.
Victor Hugo's famous collection of poems 'The Legend of the Ages' was published in three parts, in 1859, 1877, and 1883. When Hugo sent this letter, the first part (in two volumes) had been published only slightly more than one month before. Hugo’s long and moving poem “The Poor People” had been published in this first part. When he wrote this letter, Hugo was living in exile in Guernsey, having left Jersey a few years before. While he never learnt English, life in the Channel Islands must have played a part in imparting him this “deep feeling of brotherhood for the great and free English people.”
This letter comes from the personal collection of Victor Hugo’s specialists Jean and Sheila Gaudon. Jean Gaudon was a professor of French literature at Yale between 1970 and 1980. He and his wife Sheila have been among the most active specialists of Victor Hugo during several decades, publishing among other works several volumes of letters written during Hugo’s early years. Their research led them to make many discoveries, among which this letter, which they were the first to acknowledge as written to Swinburne, a most remarkable and significant fact. Hugo’s letters to foreign writers are, indeed, of the utmost scarcity. This one, which the Gaudons kept until their death, must have been particularly precious to the British-born Sheila Gaudon.
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