Émile Zola in exile in England : a Talk with Odile Hughson

Thu 8 Feb
Books & Ideas

In 1899, the writer E. Zola took a courageous stance in defence of the wrongly accused Dreyfus and was himself threatened with imprisonment. He fled to London, without any luggage and unable to speak English. This crucial time of his life is described through his observations and the excellent photographs he took. One can compare the places he found interesting with their aspect about one century later. Odile will reveal the story of the plaque she and her husband put on the house he occupied.

Odile Hughson’s biography could form the basis of a novel in its own right, raised in Marseille a branch of her family originated in a part of Poland that is now in Ukraine.

As a young woman she came to Scotland to teach and ended up marrying a Scot - David.

A self-confessed townie, she spent most of her married life in Weybridge, Surrey. A relevant fact, because a chance encounter prompted her research into the exiled House of Orléans, which resulted in a book and a series of talks.

Professionally, Odile taught French at the world famous Yehudi Menhuin school in Stoke d’Abernon, a great appointment for a music lover.

When her husband retired, they moved back to Scotland and now live in Edinburgh. Despite being a keen gardener, she finds herself sans jardin which is why she volunteered to be a guide for the Museum of Scotland, a service she has provided for more than 20 years.