Victor Hugo finished "Les Misérables" in Waterloo?




It was in 1841 that Victor Hugo, member of the Académie Française and Peer of France, began his novel "Les Misères". There was no indication at the time that this Catholic conservative would create characters who would embody the yearning for freedom and the search for happiness of all the exploited people on earth. Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, the Thénardier, Javert, Gavroche... all these names still live in the collective imagination.


The writer put the manuscript to one side for several years before picking it up again during his exile in the Channel Islands under a new title, "Les Misérables". However, it was not until his  return to the continent that he completed it, in the room he occupied for two months at the Hotel des Colonnes, under the gaze of the Waterloo lion. It is therefore at the scene of the battle itself that Hugo added the final full stop to his epic work, stating, "Mont-Saint-Jean, 30 June 1861".


And it was a Belgian publisher, Albert Lacroix (and his associate Hippolyte Verboeckhoven), who published this masterpiece in 1862 at the end of what became known as "the contract of the century", in view of the amount of the transaction, which was the equivalent of several thousand euros. Also in Brussels, the drama was first performed at the "Théâtre des Galeries Saint-Hubert", on 3 January 1963. The work has remained successful ever since: "Les Misérables" has not aged a day, has been translated into many languages, adapted some fifty times for the cinema, and been made the subject of a modern opera.