Guillaume Fau on Victor Hugo and the making of a national collection

  • Date recorded: 20 Jul 2014

  • Duration: 45:56

'manuscripts, first drafts and fragments can help us to understand how a writer writes his books'

– Guillaume Fau

About this video

Watch Guillaume Fau, Chief Heritage Curator at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, as he discusses the significance of the bequest made by Victor Hugo to the National Library of France in 1881. Hugo's gift of his entire collection of personal papers and manuscripts began a hugely important trend of donated author archives that continues today.

It was thanks to Hugo’s bequest that we were able to feature the original manuscript of the famous novel Les Misérables in our 2014 exhibition, Victor Hugo: Les Misérables - From Page to Stage. The manuscript was the standout amongst many other rare items brought to Melbourne from the rich collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and other French institutions.

In his talk, Guillaume explains how draft manuscripts can help us to understand the writing process. He also shares how Victor Hugo’s bequest inspired other writers to posthumously donate their works to what has become the largest museum of French literarure in the world. You can view some of this content on the Bibliothèque nationale de France website and its Gallica digital library.


Guillaume Fau is the Chief Heritage Curator, Manuscripts Department, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.