Victor Hugo

4 French Trailblazers Who Changed the World

Considered the greatest of all French poets, Hugo also gained renown as a novelist and introduced the historical novel into France. That was Notre-Dame de Paris (better known in English translation as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).

Discover the extraordinary impact, not only in France, but around the world, of this French Trailblazer who changed our world.

A brilliant conspiracy story

His Les Misérables has had a huge impact on artists, musicians, soldiers, politicians, other writers. It is the world’s most filmed novel. Its publication broke records and introduced change into the publishing industry. In his fabulous book The Novel of the Century, author David Bellos argues, with justification, that Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables was the most important novel of the 19th century.

Get to know the man behind the novel – why was he forced into exile in the Channel Islands? Why was his most famous novel, all about French history, not published in France? How did he create a tradition of school lunches? Learn about his larger-than-life personality, his lovers, children and homes.

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your Trailblazers series.

As a lifelong Francophone and Francophile, it was so interesting to get the whole story as it were, about your subjects. In each of your presentations, I learned a great deal that I didn’t know, and your information was spot on. 

So I thank you so much for the opportunity to listen and learn.

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed watching your four French Trailblazers lectures. It was a wonderful treat for me to sit back on a Monday early evening, to listen, watch and learn from you.
Thank you so much for the marvellous French Series. I have savoured every word. You really kept our minds in high spirits just when needed. 
Looking forward to your future events. Your range of interests and enthusiasm is inspiring. 
Stay safe, well and curious!

Thank you for your most interesting and informative talk about Victor Hugo. It has stimulated me to get to the library and borrow one of his novels when I can of course. 


I loved the lecture, it was so wonderful to be back. I have resisted zoom as I felt I spent too much time on screens. However, being back listening to Susannah’s fantastic lectures was marvellous. I can’t wait until next Monday. 


We simply loved last night’s talk, we were listening intently and making notes of new places to visit once “it’s all over.” 

Geraldine and Richard

Your talk on Victor Hugo was – as expected – brilliant. Yes, his house on Guernsey is extraordinary (I was there in 2015).


I enjoyed your talk on Victor Hugo very much, especially as I have been to his house in Place des Vosges, which I found remarkable. I had booked a trip to visit the house in the Channel Islands but Covid intervened.


Thank you very much for your Zoom meeting on Victor Hugo yesterday. As is always the case, your presentation was excellent and I much enjoyed being enlightened further on his works and his life.

I look forward to next week’s lecture on Paul Cezanne.


You make your authors and their story come to life for me. I am so appreciative! I’ve watched your videos from RACV, Tea with a Book Addict and now your new series. As I live in Melbourne with so many restrictions, you have been the face I have seen most frequently, I count myself very lucky!


Thank you so much for the delightful talk on Victor Hugo yesterday. It was packed with so many interesting facts and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. 


Thank you for your wonderful talk yesterday. My friend Jan who watched with me said “now I know why you go on those trips”.

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Discuss it with me

What do you think about Victor Hugo, the man? Have you read Les Misérables the book, or just seen a stage or movie adaptation? Let’s discuss it here.

Get the book, watch the movie and more

Links for where to buy the books in print, ebook or audio will be listed here before the talk. Find the books on my recommended reading list, watch a movie version, enjoy related videos, websites and much more. Have anything to add here? Let me know.

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I only recommend books I have read or know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.
Featured image credit- Victor Hugo by Étienne Carjat, 1876, Public Domain,

Comments (4)

  1. Margy

    I remember seeing the musical in London years ago as I started my backpacking adventures knowing nothing of the story and being stunned by the show. Years later I saw the movie version and now sob my way to the end each time I rewatch it. Thanks for your wonderful lecture – the book awaits me on a long holiday!

  2. Mark Sims

    Dear Susannah,
    I have read the book twice, saw the musical three times, crewed the show 10 times for a non professional Musical Theatre Company. My wife and I have visited his tomb in the Pantheon.
    We enjoyed your lecture and expanding our knowledge on his life and works.

    Kind regards and thank you

    Mark Sims
    ps I said of the musical you did not come away singing tgec songs but feeling the pain!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Wow, that’s a lot of fabulous connections with Les Mis. So glad you enjoyed the talk and learned something about a remarkable man. Many thanks for booking the series.

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