Alexandre Dumas visited Victor Hugo, his lifelong friend, in Guernsey in 1857


‘They are really terrified of this great voice from exile ! You know they told Alexandre Dumas to shut up. About what? Do you know? Because he said that while his body was in Paris, his heart was in Brussels and Jersey! Really, that’s not much, is it? [Mme Victor Hugo to her sister, Julie]


25 Novembre [1855] ‘Cette grande voix de l’exil est redoutée ! Tu sais qu’on a averti Alexandre Dumas qu’il eût à se taire. De quoi ? Le sais-tu ? parce qu’il avait dit que son corps était a Paris, mais que son cœur était à Bruxelles et à Jersey ! Vraiment, ça n’est pas fort.’ [Mme Victor Hugo à sa sœur Julie]

‘Did you hear, Alexandre Dumas has been to see us.’ [Mme Victor Hugo to her sister, Julie, from Guernsey]


24 Mai 1857: ‘Alexandre Dumas est venu nous voir, le sais-tu ?’ [Mme Victor Hugo à sa soeur Julie, depuis Guernesey]

‘After the 2 December Dumas had an idea, a mischievous one, the sort he often gave to d’Artagnan and to Chicot: “They’ve exiled Hugo, I’ll go into exile too!” And off he went to Brussels. He was back soon enough. But he did not forget the exile; to him, Victor Hugo was an old mate. He was very fond of him. He didn’t care at all that Hugo had swiped Lucrèce Borgia from La Tour de Nesle and Marie Tudor from his Christine. Time was dragging on, he had to go and say a proper hello to his old pal. Victor Hugo welcomed him with open arms, the weather was lovely; they ate outside on a verandah watching the Guernsey waves break. Then Victor Hugo, who had just eaten a shrimp, waved his Olympian arm:

“So you see, dear Dumas, here I am on my rock of exile, banished like some ancient Roman or Greek.”

“Come on,” replied Dumas, with his hearty laugh, the butter’s an awful lot better here, there’s no comparison.” ‘

Adolphe Racot, Contemporary portraits

Letter to Alex Dumas fils, 15 April 1872, on the death of his father:

‘You father and I, we were young together. I loved him, and he loved me. Alexandre Dumas was as elevated in heart as he was in mind: he was a great good soul. I hadn’t seen him since 1857. He came and stayed in  my house of exile in Guernsey, and we arranged to see each other again in a shared future and in a shared homeland, and in September 1870, the time came: my idea of duty changed: I had to go back to France.

Alas, the same wind had contrary consequences. As I was on my way back to Paris, Alexandre Dumas had just departed from there. I couldn’t share his handshake one final time. Today I shall not be one of those who accompanies him to his final resting-place. But his soul sees mine.  In a few days, soon I hope, I will do what I can’t at this moment do; I will go, alone, to his place of rest, and I shall repay at his tomb the visit he made to me in my exile.’


‘Votre père et moi, nous avons été jeunes ensemble. Je l’aimais, et il m’aimait. Alexandre Dumas n’était pas moins haut par le coeur que par l’esprit; c’était une grande âme bonne. Je ne l’avais pas vu depuis 1857. Il était venu s’asseoir à mon foyer de proscrit à Guernesey, et nous nous étions donné rendez-vous dans l’avenir et dans la patrie, en septembre 1870, le moment est venu; le devoir s’est transformé pour moi: j’ai dû retourner en France.

Hélas, le même coup de vent a des effets contraires. Comme je revenais dans Paris, Alexandre Dumas venait d’en sortir. Je n’ai pas eu son dernier serrement de main. Aujourd’hui je manque à son dernier cortège. Mais son âme voit la mienne. Avant peu de jours, bientôt je le pourrai peut-être, je ferai ce que je n’ai pu faire en ce moment; j’irai, solitaire, dans le champ où il repose, et cette visite qu’il a faite à mon exil, je la rendrai à son tombeau.’