Juliette DROUET

Family tree of Juliette DROUET

Actor, Companion

FrenchBorn Julienne Joséphine GAUVAIN

French actress, mistress of Victor Hugo

Born on April 10, 1806 in Fougères, France , France

Died on May 11, 1883 in Paris, France

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Juliette was born Julienne Josephine Gauvain in Fougères, Ille-et-Vilaine, the daughter of Julien Gauvain, a tailor, and Marie Marchandet, who was employed as a housemaid. She had two older sisters, Renee and Thérèse, and a brother Armand. She was orphaned from her mother a few months after her birth, and her father the following year, and was raised by her uncle, René Drouet. She was educated in Paris in a religious boarding school. She was a precocious child, having learned to read and write at the age of five; by the time she was ten, Gauvain was already proficient in literature and poetry. Around 1825, she became the mistress of sculptor James Pradier, who represented her in a statue symbolizing Strasbourg, at the Place de la Concorde in Paris. They had a daughter together, Claire. On the advice of Pradier, she started an acting career in 1829, initially in Brussels, then in Paris. It was around that time Gauvain began using her uncle's surname, Drouet.

Described by those who knew her as independent, impulsive and hot-tempered; she was also regarded by Parisian society as a typical courtesan who dressed splendidly,spent money wildly, and was extremely beautiful. Drouet had limpid, bright eyes; a fine,chiseled nose; a small,crimson mouth; set in an oval face, framed by a mass of blue-black hair.


In 1833, while playing the role of Princess Négroni in Lucrèce Borgia (see: Lucrezia Borgia), she met Victor Hugo. She abandoned her theatrical career afterwards to dedicate her life to her lover. Her last stage role was of Lady Jane Grey in Hugo's Marie Tudor. She became Hugo's secretary and travelling companion. For many years she lived a cloistered life, leaving home only in his company. In 1852, she accompanied him in his exile on Jersey, and then in 1855 on Guernsey. She wrote thousands of letters to him throughout her life, which testify to her writing talent according to Henri Troyat who wrote her biography in 1997.

Juliette Drouet died in Paris on 11 May 1883 at the age of seventy-seven.

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Geographical origins

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