Connecting international literary archives
Special Collections holds over 440 letters written by Juliette Drouet (1806-1883) to Victor Hugo (1802-1885). This is the largest collection of her letters outside France, and is of international significance. Drouet was the long term mistress of Hugo, and wrote him at least one letter per day during their 50 year relationship. Her correspondence is voluminous, amounting to a staggering 22,000 letters.
The collection was originally acquired in the 1920s, but was not fully catalogued until 2016, when we were contacted by Josselin Blieck, a French archivist. Josselin made us aware of a project led by Prof. Florence Naugritte at the University of Rouen to create a collected digital edition of Drouet's letters. The letters in Leeds would be able to fill in substantial gaps in this project.
Will Josselin's help, Special Collections was able to fully catalogue and digitise the Leeds collection. These letters will now be able to can form part of the international collected digital edition of Drouet's work. We were also able to create an online exhibition exploring some of the major themes of the letters, from medical history to experimental literary forms. We hope that this will encourage a range of research interests in the material at Leeds.
By listing and digitising the Drouet collection of letters, Special Collections have been able to support international scholarship, and hope to encourage further research on the collection.