The Real Quasimodo Discovered

Historical hunchback was stonemason, not bell-ringer
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2010 6:31 AM CDT
The Real Quasimodo Discovered
Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame from the book by Victor Hugo. Original Artwork: Illustrator - Antoine Wiertz of Brussels   (Getty Images)

There really was a hunchback of Notre Dame, the newly discovered memoirs of a 19th-century sculptor have revealed. References to a hunchback stonemason in the diaries of Henry Sibson, a British sculptor who went to Paris to work on the restoration of Notre Dame around the time Victor Hugo penned his famous novel, suggest that Hugo's Quasimodo was based on a historical figure, the Telegraph reports.

Sibson's seven-volume memoir, which was found in the attic of a house in 1999, was acquired by the Tate Archive and cataloged this year. "When I saw the references to the humpbacked sculptor at Notre Dame, and saw that the dates matched the time of Hugo's interest in the Cathedral, the hairs on the back of my neck rose and I thought I should look into it," the archivist said. (Read more Notre Dame stories.)

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