Was quasimodo real?
The character of Quasimodo is indeed based on a real person; a
hunchback who lived in Paris in the 1820's and was seen working in
The discovery of the real Quasimodo, or, more likely, just
Victor Hugo's inspiration for the character, was made by the
British archivist Adrian Glew.
Glew was studying the sculptor Henry Sibson's autobiography and
suddenly came across a description of a hunchbacked man working in
the cathedral, chopping stone.
This hunchback can very well have been Victor Hugo's (the author
of the novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", in French "Notre Dame
de Paris") inspiration for the hunchbacked main character
Quasimodo. It is commonly known that Hugo very often came to the
cathedral to seek inspiration for his novel, which he started
writing in 1829.
Henry Sibson never spoke to the hunchback, and the real
Quasimodo's name remains unknown. It is also yet to be discovered
whether the hunchback also worked as a bell ringer, or if he was
just hired to help with the renovation.
Bonus info: Henry Sibson's autobiography mentions the name of
another sculptor, Trajan. The Parisian archives confirms Trajan as
a sculptor in the 1820's, which strengthens the reliability of
Furthermore, Trajan might have been another one of Hugo's
inspirations: In an early version of Hugo's "Les Miserables", the
main character Jean Valjean is called Jean Trajean, maybe inspired
by this other sculptor from Sibson's autobiography.