“Toilers of the Sea” is a novel by Victor Hugo published in 1866. The book is dedicated to the island of Guernsey, where Hugo spent 15 years in exile. To underline this even Guernsey Post has prepared for issuing six special bright stamps that depict the most original illustrations from this great book.
In October 1855 Victor Hugo arrived in Guernsey, a political exile. He established a home for himself and family in St Peter Port at Hauteville House. Almost every day he wrote. He completed les Misérables and composed many poems which were published as les Légendes des siècles and les Chansons des rues et des bois.
In Guernsey Hugo had the perfect opportunity to study the sea. From his ‘look out’ he witnessed steamships and sailing-boats coming and going, the hustle-and-bustle of the port, storm clouds rolling in, the sea turning into a raging cauldron, ships in distress, shipwrecks.
In 1859 he spent a holiday in Sark. While swimming in a cave his son Charles tangled with an octopus. An idea for a novel was born. Hugo incubated the project until the summer of 1864 and then began to write in earnest. At first he called the novel The Abyss but then changed it to The Toilers of the Sea.