Countless audience members have been moved to tears by Les Misérables’ “I Dreamed a Dream” or “Do You Hear the People Sing.” However, only some of them know that the story behind the much-loved show is based on a novel by a Frenchman born in 1802. This lecture will provide an introduction to Victor Hugo, who is sometimes said to be France’s greatest writer. Hugo was famous in his time as a poet, novelist, and dramatist. He was also an active political campaigner on issues like child labor and hanging. But what makes Victor Hugo a great writer? Who did he admire, and how did personal tragedy impact his works? What links his writing and his political activism, and what led him to be exiled from France, on the one hand, and granted a state funeral at his death, on the other? Professor Catriona Seth will answer these questions and more as she seeks to present the man behind Les Miz.