UK archivist says uncovers real-life Quasimodo
By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A British archivist believes he has uncovered the real-life inspiration for French novelist Victor Hugo's mysterious character Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
Adrian Glew, who works on the Tate collection's archives in London, was studying the seven-volume handwritten autobiography of 19th century British sculptor Henry Sibson when he came across a reference to a Frenchman whose nickname was "le bossu," or hunchback.
Sibson had been employed in the 1820s to carve stone as part of the renovation of Notre Dame in Paris which had suffered damage during the French Revolution in the 1790s.
But he fell out with one of his contractors and applied for another job at the government studios where he met a carver called Trajan.
According to Sibson, Trajan was a "most worthy, fatherly and amiable man as ever existed -- he was the carver under the government sculptor whose name I forget as I had no intercourse with him. All that I know is that he was humpbacked and he did not like to mix with carvers."
Glew immediately thought he was on to something.
"It was almost like peering into Tutankhamun's tomb and you see a glimpse of something that attracts your eye," he told Reuters.
SEVERAL CONNECTIONS Continued...