Hutchinson buys biography of revolutionary who inspired Les Mis

Hutchinson buys biography of revolutionary who inspired Les Mis

Hutchinson has bought a biography of French revolutionary Emmanuel Barthélemy whose life inspired Victor Hugo’s 1862-published novel Les Miserables.

Sarah Rigby, senior editor at Hutchinson, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) in The Murderer of Warren Street by Oxford historian, Marc Mulholland, from Sally Holloway at Felicity Bryan Associates.

The Murderer of Warren Street is the "gripping, thrilling and unique" true tale of the Victorian revolutionary, Emmanuel Barthélemy, who was hanged for double murder in London in 1855. 

Barthélemy, who was born in 1823 into an ordinary French working-class family, was immortalised in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, in which novel is an account of Barthélemy's life, for manning the Parisian barricades of the June Days of 1848. A political radical by the age of 16, he narrowly avoided execution following the failure of the uprising and risked his life to escape across his gaol’s rooftops. He left France for London in 1850 disguised as a priest, according to Hutchinson, where he mixed with famous revolutionaries of the day, including Karl Marx, fell in love and planned a political assassination that would lead to his eventual death.

Rigby, who pre-empted the book, called it "a true life story more remarkable than fiction". She said, "At the time of his hanging, Emmanuel Barthélemy’s history was described as ‘a drama of thrilling interest’, and this is exactly what Marc Mulholland promises to deliver in The Murderer of Warren Street. Surrounded by the bustle of Paris and London’s 19th-century streets, you cannot help but be captivated as you follow the coattails of this feared and revered man."

Mulholland, a tutor and fellow at St Catherine’s College, Oxford University, said: "Emmanuel Barthélemy until now has been a footnote in history. But what a remarkable life! Barricade fighter, jail-breaker and revolutionary, Barthélemy sparred with Karl Marx in London, fought the last duel in England and went to the gallows defending the woman he loved. His waxwork was for years the prize exhibit in Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors. My book shines a light into an extraordinary underworld of conspiracy and insurrection. Barthélemy's story brings history alive and its passions and treacheries have a surprising number of lessons for us today."

Hutchinson will publish in hardback and e-book in August 2018, with a Windmill paperback to follow.