French actress Juliette Drouet first met Victor Hugo in 1833 whilst she was playing the role of Princess Negroni in the play Lucrezia Borgia. Hugo was married at that time, although his wife was having an affair with the critic Sainte-Beuve. Although she had been able to curate a reasonable amount of success on the stage, she decided to abandon her career in order to dedicate her entire life to Hugo. Her last performance on stage was in one of Hugo’s plays, Marie Tudor, where she played the role of Lady Jane Grey.
Although the pair were never officially married, they lived their lives as if they were, with Drouet spending nearly every moment of her life with Hugo, who remained married to his first wife, even throughout his exile.
Drouet wrote thousands of letters to Hugo, which many modern scholars have stated demonstrate her skill as a writer. Ultimately Drouet and Hugo led a complicated yet fulfilling life together as a couple. Drouet died at the age of 77 on the 11th of May in 1883, Hugo was dissuaded from attending her funeral by his family who feared a scandal.