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  • State Library of Victoria

    Victor Hugo — From Page to Stage

    18 JULY — 9 NOVEMBER 2014


The Exhibition

Take an unforgettable journey from the 19th-century Paris of Victor Hugo's novel – Les Misérables – to today's blockbuster stage musical. Featuring rare items from the collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Maison de Victor Hugo, Musée Rodin, Cameron Mackintosh Archive and others, this exhibition is a world-first insight into the most popular French story of all time.

Exclusive to the State Library of Victoria, the exhibition takes you on a themed, multi-sensory exploration of:

  • Victor Hugo’s original handwritten Les Misérables manuscript – a French national treasure that’s leaving Europe for the first time
  • Original drawings and watercolours by Victor Hugo
  • Rare scripts, scores, designs and posters from the 1985 Royal Shakespeare Company production
  • Original costumes and designs from the cinematic portrayals of Les Misérables – including the 2012 film starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman
  • 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.

Opening in July 2014, to coincide with Cameron Mackintosh's acclaimed new production of Boublil and Schönberg's Les Misérables currently playing in Melbourne, this collection of iconic rarities is not to be missed.


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

Image gallery

See, and learn more about, selected items from the exhibition in our image gallery.


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

Visiting information

Dates: 18 July to 9 November 2014
Hours: daily 10am–6pm, Thursdays to 9pm
Venue: State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

Plan your visit to the exhibition now.

Hear more about this exciting exhibition from Senior Project Curator Tim Fisher, Associate Project Curator Anais Lellouche and creator/composer of Boublil and Schönberg's  Les Misérables, Claude-Michel Schönberg.

Presented by
Principal Partner
Major Partners

Victor Hugo

Born in Besançon, France, Victor Hugo (1802–1885) is considered one of the greatest and most important French authors of all time. Best known for his novels Les Misérables (1862) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) he is also famous for his poetry, theatre, novels, essays and drawings.

Throughout his life, he actively defended the common man, and sought to abolish the death sentence. First published at the young age of 15, he was soon after recognised by the King for his poetry and entered politics as a congressman in 1845. It was during this time he began writing his masterpiece, Les Misérables. After an attempt to overthrow Napoleon III in 1851 he was forced into exile and in 1860, after nearly a decade of intense political turmoil, he set out to revise and complete this epic novel.

When the first two volumes of Les Misérables arrived in Paris in April 1862, all 6000 copies sold in a day. Public readings were organised when copies sold out. Everyone was reading it, from the literary intelligentsia to the common people. It was also quickly translated into nine languages to reach a global audience. After only three months, 100,000 authorised copies (and countless editions on the black market) had been sold worldwide, making the novel into an unprecedented literary bestseller of western literature. In 1870 after the fall of Napoleon III, Hugo returned to France and was hailed a national hero.

Victor Hugo’s legacy and the iconic story of Les Misérables endure to this day with various adaptations being created around the world. There have been at least 48 films, 14 animated films or TV series, radio plays, 12 television miniseries, numerous comic books, and at least 286 editions of Les Misérables published, sung and spoken.

The stage musical of Boublil and Schönberg's Les Misérables is in itself a worldwide phenomenon. It is the longest running theatre performance in London and has been seen by over 65 million people in 43 countries and in 21 languages. It returns to Melbourne in June 2014.

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.


Purchase your exhibition tickets now via or call 132 849.

Ticket typePrice 1
Concession 2$12
Friends of the Library$10
Child (age 3–16)$12
Family (2 adults, 3 children)$42

Group (pp, min 10, +1 comp ticket for groups 20+)


School group (pp, min 10, +1 comp ticket)



1Ticket prices include GST and booking fees. Transaction fee applies.

2Concession prices apply to the following cardholders: Full-time student with ID (16 years+), Health Care Card, Seniors Card, Pension Card, International Student Card



The exhibition complements many learning areas, including English, the arts, literature, history, French language and more.

Exhibition entry only

Students get the chance to explore the exhibition and discover some of the universal and enduring themes to come out of Victor Hugo’s work. Students will also receive a free learning guide on arrival.

Book your school group through Ticketek by calling: 1300 364 001

Workshops + exhibition entry

Book into one of the Library's workshops and receive free entry to the exhibition.

Primary students: Page to stage workshop

Students will have the chance to get hands-on in a set design workshop, bringing to life their favourite scene from the exhibition.

Book this workshop

Secondary students: Page to stage workshop

Students will work with innovative technology to create their own digital comic, inspired by Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables.

Book this workshop

Teaching resources

Use our curriculum-aligned teaching materials in your classroom and help students understand the world of Victor Hugo’s characters, make connections between the text with events from Victoria’s history and explore adaptations of the iconic story.

Rare Books Librarian wearing white gloves showing students a rare book

Social hub


Share your Les Misérables experience on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with #VicHugo.

View the full stack, thanks to our friends at Bank of Melbourne.


Presented by

Principal partner

Major partners

Supporting partners

International lenders

This exhibition was made possible with the generous support of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Maisons de Victor Hugo in Paris and Guernsey, Musée Carnavalet, Musée Rodin, Maison Litteraire de Victor Hugo, and Cameron Mackintosh Limited. 

Program partners

A Melbourne Unesco city of literature event

An f20 creative France event

Supported by the Victorian government

About the Library

Established in 1856, the State Library of Victoria is Australia's oldest public library and one of the state's most prominent cultural and heritage destinations. Our mission is to be a place where all Victorians can discover, learn, create and connect.

Located in the heart of Melbourne, we welcome more than 1.7 million people of all ages each year and receive over 3 million website visits. Our rich collection, spectacular buildings, knowledgeable staff and year-round program of activities and events mean there is always something for visitors to enjoy.

Visit our website to learn more about us or subscribe to our enewsletters to stay up to date.

Find us at:

Address: 328 Swanston St, Melbourne, Victoria
Phone: 03 8664 7000

Website image credits

  • Émile Bayard, ‘Cosette’, engraving by Bellanger, 1886, reproduced in Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (London, G Routledge and Sons), 1887. Rare Books Collection, State Library of Victoria.
  • Gustave Brion, ‘Javert’, 1862, reproduced in Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (London, G Routledge and Sons), 1887. Rare Books Collection, State Library of Victoria.
  • Eugène Devéria, ‘Victor Hugo’, 1829, engraving by James Hopwood the Younger, reproduced in Oeuvres complètes de Victor Hugo, ‘Les Misérables’, vol. 1, Fantine (Paris, Société d’Éditions Littéraires et Artistiques, 1927). State Library of Victoria.