5 Utterly Bizarre Facts About Victor Hugo

French novelist Victor Hugo is best known for writing Les Misérables, the sweeping story of wrongly-accused fugitive Jean Valjean, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which he probably couldn't guess would one day become an animated Disney film. But Hugo, who was born on February 26, 1802, had a life beyond his writing: He was a very accomplished artist, rendering thousands of illustrations, mostly for private exhibition, and spent 15 years in exile for butting heads with Napoleon.

While those details might be interesting, they don’t compare to some of Hugo’s lesser-known but inarguably captivating quirks and facts. Take a look at five things you may not have known about the life of Victor Hugo.

1. HE WAS CONCEIVED AT ALTITUDE.

Hugo’s parents, Leopold and Sophie, were 3000 feet above sea level on Mount Donon when inspiration struck in May 1801. (Leopold, a major, had been battling a rash of smugglers in the mountains.) The elder Hugo was fond of telling his son that his life was destined to be unique as a result, and he was right. Today, the precise location of Hugo’s conception is marked with a stone tablet: “IN THIS PLACE / ON 5 FLOREAL, YEAR 9 / VICTOR HUGO / WAS CONCEIVED."

2. HE WROTE IN THE NUDE.

Perhaps the lack of inhibitions was genetic. As an adult, Hugo would attempt to combat writer’s block by asking his servants to take his clothing and leave him in a room, nude and without distraction. His clothing would only be returned if he had finished writing for the day. If it was very cold, Hugo would allow himself a blanket.

3. HE WAS SEXUALLY INSATIABLE.

Amorous in the extreme, Hugo once boasted of having relations with wife Adele nine times on their wedding night. After she begged off on any further copulation years into their marriage, Hugo bedded hundreds of women. Age did not slow him down, either. At 70, he courted a 22-year-old, and at 80, he was said to have made a successful pass at his maid.

4. HE LIKED TO WATCH.

Hugo’s libido was apparently unsatisfied by his own activities. At his home, he reportedly installed peepholes into guest bedrooms so he could surreptitiously gaze upon the activities of his friends.  

5. HE BECAME A SAINT IN VIETNAM.

Some 60 miles outside of the city formerly known as Saigon sits a temple considered to be the home of Cao Dai, a Vietnamese religion with over 5 million devotees. Names like Hugo, Thomas Jefferson, and Joan of Arc are considered saints because they were said to have reached out to the group during séances. There is no report of his spirit making a pass at anyone.

15 Convenient Products That Are Perfect for Summer

First Colonial/Lunatec/Safe Touch
First Colonial/Lunatec/Safe Touch

The Fourth of July is the epitome of summer—and after several months spent indoors, you need some outdoor fun more than anything. Check out these 15 summer must-haves while they’re on sale and save an extra 15 percent when you spend $50 or more with the code JULYFOURTH15.

1. CARSULE Pop-Up Cabin for Your Car; $300 (20 percent off)

Carsule tent from Mogics.
Mogics

This tent connects to your hatchback car like a tailgate mobile living room. The installation takes just a few minutes and the entire thing stands 6.5 feet tall so you can enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of your car.

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2. Mosquito Killer Lamp; $30 (25 percent off)

Mosquito-killing lamp.
Kinkoo

If you just so happen to be one of those unlucky souls who attracts a suspicious amount of mosquitos the second you step outside, you need this repellent lamp to help keep your arms and legs bite-free. It uses a non-toxic combination of LED lights, air turbulence, and other methods to keep the pests at bay.

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3. Super Shield Mosquito Repellent Electronic Watch Band; $17 (57 percent off)

Mosquito repeller watch.
Safe Touch

While a lamp is a great non-toxic solution for keeping bugs at bay, active individuals need a bug repellent that can keep up with their lifestyle. This wrist wearable keeps you safe from mosquitoes anywhere by using ultrasonic sounds to drive them away.

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4. ZeroDark 3-Piece Tactical Set: Flashlight, Lantern, and Headlamp; $20 (66 percent off)

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Audro

If you want your summer to be lit, this set will do the trick. All puns aside, this trio of LED brightness is perfect for camping fun and backyard parties, or it can be stored in the car for emergencies.

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5. Outdoor Collapsible Cooler and Camp Table Set; $64 (27 percent off)

First Colonial cooler.
First Colonial

Cookouts are easy with this cooler and table set that chills your drink until you're ready to pop it into one of the four convenient cupholders. Bring this set camping or out by the pool for convenience anywhere.

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Trident underwater scooter.
Geneinno

If you’ve ever dreamed of better mobility while exploring the water, you’re not alone. The Trident underwater scooter, which raised over $82,000 on Indiegogo, can propel you through the water at up to nearly 6 feet per second, which isn't that far off from how fast Michael Phelps swam in his prime. The battery on it will last 45 minutes, allowing you to traverse with ease.

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3P Experts bug zapper.
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Urban Rover

This e-skateboard is perfect for getting around during the summer. You'll catch a breeze while you’re cruising on the battery-powered platform and won’t break a sweat when you pop the compact board in your bag.

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Headlamp from One80Light
One80Light

Camping, car troubles, and sports all pose a problem at night. This LED headlight will light up your surroundings across a 180-degree radius for prime visibility, meaning your outdoor activities won't have to stop when the sun sets.

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This bladeless fan won't just keep you cool while you work on your laptop—it also has a built-in rechargable battery that you can use to charge your phone.

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This portable light is designed to adapt to your lighting preference. It self-inflates in a few seconds and can bounce, get wet, and set the mood.

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This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

The 10 Most—and 10 Least—Stressed-Out States in America

The French Quarter in New Orleans makes for a fabulous vacation spot, but Louisiana can be stressful for full-time residents.
The French Quarter in New Orleans makes for a fabulous vacation spot, but Louisiana can be stressful for full-time residents.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

When your car breaks down, your card gets declined, and your alarm fails to go off all in one week, it probably seems like your own state of stress has nothing to do with the state you happen to live in. But some states do tend to have more stressed populations than others.

To find out which ones, WalletHub analyzed 41 factors across four different types of stress—work, money, family, and health and safety—and scored each state’s collective stress level on a scale of 100. The findings don’t exactly jibe with the idea that life is slow-moving and easy-going down South: Nearly all 10 of the most-stressed states are in the South or Southwest, including Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, and Oklahoma.

Louisiana came in first with just over 57 points, ranking third for work-related stress (which covers things like average hours worked per week and unemployment rate) and second for money-related stress (think income, credit score, and housing affordability).

Residents in Alaska, which clinched the 10th spot with about 49 points, don’t seem to have much money-, family-, or health-related stress; the state landed at 46th, 36th, and 23rd for those three categories, respectively. Their work stress, on the other hand, is higher than any other state, largely due to low job security and long hours.

If you’re looking to move somewhere mellow, your best bet is the upper Midwest. Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa are the four least-stressed states in the land. Minnesota, whose stress score is less than 28, has some of the lowest poverty and divorce rates, some of the highest credit scores, and an abundance of psychologists per capita. But you don’t have to resign yourself to living in a cold climate if you want to settle down somewhere calm—Hawaii ranked seventh, and temperate Maryland rounded out the top 10.

Take a look below to see if your state is especially harried or not, and see the full list of scores here.

Most-Stressed States

  1. Louisiana // 57.30
  1. Mississippi // 56.20
  1. New Mexico // 52.68
  1. Arkansas // 52.00
  1. West Virginia // 51.96
  1. Nevada // 51.03
  1. Kentucky // 50.59
  1. Alabama // 50.30
  1. Oklahoma // 50.13
  1. Alaska // 49.23

Least-Stressed States

  1. Minnesota // 27.62
  1. North Dakota // 30.17
  1. South Dakota // 30.55
  1. Iowa // 31.38
  1. Utah // 31.92
  1. New Hampshire // 32.01
  1. Hawaii // 33.73
  1. Colorado // 35.46
  1. Wisconsin // 35.49
  1. Maryland // 35.76

[h/t WalletHub]