Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage

cosetteThe story behind one of the most popular musicals of all time comes to life in Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage, a world-first exhibition at the State Library of Victoria from 18 July 2014.

Timed to coincide with the musical Les Misérables, which is currently playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage brings together an extraordinary collection of rarely seen material from around the world including original writing and artwork from Victor Hugo himself.

First published in 1862 Les Misérables is considered to be one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. The story follows the plight of downtrodden and dispossessed characters in Paris and culminates in the dramatic events of the 1832 June Rebellion.

Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885), a prolific author, playwright, poet and artist, was an extraordinary larger than life character whose work touched upon the key political, artistic and social issues of his times, leading at first to his exile and later to widespread popularity and success.

The exhibition takes visitors on an exploration of Hugo’s life and the Paris of his day and shows how his personal experiences shaped his masterpiece, Les Misérables. It brings together rarely seen original manuscripts, photographs, paintings, drawings and publications, to reveal Hugo’s passions and politics, family and social conscience.

CEO and State Librarian Sue Roberts says a partnership with theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh brings another level to the exhibition that will be of huge interest to fans of the book, musical and film.

“This partnership means for the first time fans will get to see original Les Misérables scripts, scores, costumes, set designs, posters, photographs and film taking them backstage and into the heart of this extraordinary production,” says Sue Roberts.

Recognising the partnership Cameron Mackintosh said: “first exhibition that showcases the life of Victor Hugo and featuring his literary masterpiece, Les Misérables.”

“For the first time items from our archive will be on display giving fans the opportunity to witness iconic moments from my production of Boublil and Schönberg ‘s phenomenal musical adaption of Hugo’s great novel, since its sensational debut over 28 years ago. This is an exciting international exhibition that I’m sure you will not want to miss.”

Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage takes you on a themed, multi-sensory exploration of: Victor Hugo’s original handwritten Les Misérables – a French national treasure that’s leaving Europe for the first time; original drawings and watercolours by Victor Hugo; and rare scripts, scores, designs and posters from the 1985 Royal Shakespeare Company production.

The exhibition will also feature original costumes and designs from the cinematic portrayals of Les Misérables – including the 2012 film starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman; and an entire gallery, including interactive displays, dedicated to the current Melbourne production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables stage musical, giving visitors the chance to dress up and take centre stage.

Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage
State Library of Victoria, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Exhibition: 18 July – 9 November 2014
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Émile Bayard, ‘Cosette’, engraving by Bellanger, 1886, reproduced in Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (London, G Routledge and Sons), 1887 (detail)