Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage exhibition

Coinciding with the Australian premiere of Cameron Mackintosh's acclaimed new production of Boublil and Schönberg's Les Misérables in Melbourne, Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage brings together an extraordinary collection of rarely seen material from around the world.

See 100 pages of Victor Hugo’s 1862 Les Misérables manuscript, using our interactive digitised version now on display. The 945-page handwritten volume has returned home to the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, as the manuscript can only be displayed for short periods in order to preserve its precious pages. The digitised version lets you discover passages that weren't included in the published novel, including additions and corrections in Hugo’s own hand.

Visit our dedicated Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage website for full details on the exhibition, ticket information and sales, Victor Hugo and more.

Companion card is accepted at State Library of Victoria events.


Photography and filming is not permitted in the main gallery, due to preservation requirements, but is allowed in the interactive gallery. Please refer to signs in the exhibition or ask a staff member for further information.

More to explore

Image gallery

View our Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage image gallery to see selected items from the exhibition.


View an online interactive of the original manuscript, with expert video commentary, produced by The Age.

Research guide

Discover more about Victor Hugo, Les Misérables and Hugo's influence on 19th-century art, politics and literature in our Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage research guide.

Exhibition catalogue

Illustrated throughout, the catalogue is a lasting souvenir of an unforgettable exhibition. Exploring the life and work of Victor Hugo, the book also provides background on 19th-century Paris, looks at the novel's unforgettable characters and many adaptations, and includes a history of the Boublil and Schönberg musical.

Exhibition shop

While seeing the exhibition, visit the pop-up shop run by Readings to browse the range of merchandise on sale.

The stories behind the merchandise

Paris has its revolutions

The French Revolution of 1789 established the principles of 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity' as the foundation of republican ideology. Victor Hugo believed that the very existence of revolutionary spirit attests to the people’s right to fight for a more just society.

In an essay entitled 'Paris' (1867), Hugo wrote:

Paris's supremacy is an enigma. Think about it: Rome has more majesty, Venice has more beauty, Naples has more grace, London has more riches. What does Paris have? Paris has its revolutions.

Javert and Cosette

Only a couple of months after Les Misérables was published in 1862, the ambitious and unknown artist Gustave Brion decided (independently of Hugo) to illustrate the highly popular novel. He created 14 drawings of the main characters, which were reproduced as photographs and widely distributed. By 1865 Brion had made 200 drawings, which were then published in the first illustrated editions of Les Misérables.

Nox Mors Lux

The words 'NOX MORS LUX' ('NIGHT DEATH LIGHT') are carved on the bedhead of the large four-poster situated in the master bedroom of Hauteville House, Guernsey, Victor Hugo’s home during his long exile from France. The master bedroom is highly decorated in Hugo’s symbolic neo-gothic style, and was created in honour of his political hero, the Italian general and politician Giuseppe Garibaldi. Despite repeated invitations, Garibaldi never visited Hauteville House and the room remained unused. The novelist Alexandre Dumas was given the honour of sleeping in the bed on his only visit to Guernsey; however, he was so disturbed by the atmosphere of the room that he sought alternative accommodation.