The Halifax Literary Walking Tour

Bellevue Mansion, General’s Residence (c.1865)
Spring Garden Road and Queen Street

NSARM Photo Collection, W. Chase Provincial Gallery, Album 5, Image 5

15. Adèle Hugo

Your final stop is a tragic tale of love, madness and despair. Adèle Hugo was the youngest daughter of Victor Hugo, author of such famous works as Les Miserables (1862). Known for her beauty and musical talent, Adèle was also prone to fits of mental anguish and obsession. While living in exile on the Channel Islands, Adèle met a young English ensign, Albert Andrew Pinson. She immediately fell in love with him, though he showed himself to be a womanizer, ill-tempered and debt-ridden.

Shortly after their meeting, Pinson departed to Halifax with the English Army, but kept in touch with Adèle through letters. When he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1861, Adele announced to her mortified father that they were to be married. It is not clear, however, if Pinson actually proposed to Adèle, or if this was a creation of her own vivid imagination.

A year later, Adele escaped her family's watchful eyes and secretly followed her love to his new location. She registered at the Halifax Hotel under the assumed name of “Miss Lewly”. No one knew her true identity. Funds soon got scarce, so she rented rooms with local Haligonians, close to the army barracks. Adèle’s imagination took the better hold of her while in Halifax, for she announced to her family that she was now married, though Pinson maintained they were not.

For two years, she spied on Pinson all over Halifax. She often wore black, or donned men’s clothes, peering at him through windows during social visits or from carriages parked nearby. One night, she stalked him outside Bellevue Mansion on Spring Garden Road. Pinson discovered her guise and dragged her to the Poor House cemetery, now Grafton Park, where they exchanged heated words. It is not known if they ever met face to face again. Throughout her stay in Halifax, Adèle was feverishly chronicling her activities in a journal, buying paper at James Gossip, Stationer.

Pinson was transferred to the Barbados in June of 1866. Adèle followed, where she was seen wandering the streets in rags. Eventually she was taken under the wing of Madame Celine Alvarez Baa, who brought her back to Paris, where Victor Hugo was living. Adèle spent the rest of her life in a comfortable middle class institution, and died there in 1915.

To read more on any of these topics, please consult the Literary Walking Tour and the Literary Firsts reading lists.

« Back Literary Walking Tour