Victor Hugo, arguably France’s greatest literary figure, wrote poetry, plays, and novels with equal facility, and while his novels (including Notre Dame de Paris [aka The Hunchback of Notre Dame] and Les Misérables) are his most influential works today, his works in all three genres have inspired composers of not just classical, but popular music. During the Romantic era, there was hardly a single French composer who didn’t set at least one of Hugo’s works, few Italian opera composers who didn’t at least consider one of his plays, and while his influence was strongest in those two countries, it was also felt worldwide. His writing also had a profound impact on other writers, calling for an end to the neo-Classicism that had dominated French literature, particularly its deliberate elegance and restraint in expression and choice of subjects, introducing “orientalist” influences, and insisting on juxtaposing humor and tragedy, as well as the ugly and the beautiful. (This emphasis on freedom found particular resonance in Giuseppe Verdi and sparked several of his wars with censorship in Italy, particularly over Rigoletto, based on Le roi s’amuse.)
I love the music of Verdi. He’s my hands-down favorite operatic composer.
There is more about Hugo on Answer.com’s Website. Read it and wish him a happy birthday!