This document was originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 9. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 13-14.

Victor Hugo was born at Besançon, February 28th, 1802, the third son of General Count Joseph Leopold Hugo. His father, an old soldier, had remained in the French army, though not a favorite with Napoleon, yet esteemed by his brother Joseph, who was made king of Spain. Victor's mother, by birth a Vendean, was a devout royalist, and such he became in his youth under her training. He displayed astonishing precocity, and in boyhood filled copybooks with verses which he long afterward labelled "The follies I wrote before my birth." A year of his childhood was spent in Spain, and recollections of the people and country formed part of his literary equipment. At the age of fifteen he competed for a prize offered by the Academy for a poem on "The Happiness Derived from Study," but the examiners, believing that the author could not be so young as stated in the verses, granted him only honorable mention. Soon the truth was discovered, and Chateaubriand, then at the height of his fame, hailed Hugo as "the sublime child." Later he won similar prizes from the Academy and elsewhere.


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