Alexandre Dumas

Playwright, Author

Alexandre Dumas was born on July 24, 1802, in Villers-Cotterêts, France. He adopted the last name "Dumas" from his grandmother, a former Haitian slave. Dumas established himself as one of the most popular and prolific authors in France, known for plays and historical adventure novels such as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. He died on December 5, 1870, in Puys, France. His works have been translated into more than 100 languages and adapted for numerous films.

Early Life
Alexandre Dumas was born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie on July 24, 1802, in Villers-Cotterêts, France, to Marie Louise Labouret and General Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie. The Dumas family name was adopted from Alexandre's grandmother, an enslaved Haitian woman named Marie-Césette Dumas. His grandfather was the Marquis Alexandre Antoine Davy de La Pailleterie. Thomas-Alexandre took the name Dumas when he enlisted in Napoleon's army, where he acquired the dubious nickname "Black Devil."

Thomas-Alexandre rose to the rank of general at the age of 31, the highest rank of any black man in a European army. Thomas-Alexandre left the armed forces following a disagreement with Napoleon over his Egypt campaign. He was imprisoned for nearly two years and died shortly after his release. After her husband's death, Marie Louise Labouret worked hard to provide an education for her son. 

Writing Career
In 1822, Dumas moved to Paris and immersed himself in literature. He worked as a scribe for the duc d'Orléans (later named King Louis Philippe) during the 1830 revolution. He began writing plays, both comedies and dramas. Dumas's Romantic style—often compared to that of his contemporary and rival, Victor Hugo—proved to be exceptionally popular.

He achieved widespread success with his novels The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers, initially published as serials. The Three Musketeers was one of three novels in his D'Artagnan Romances, the others being Twenty Years After and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later. The story "The Man in the Iron Mask" from Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, also stands out as one his most widely known. Among his many volumes of romantic novels are the series of Valois, which center on Queen Marguerite, the last in the Capetian dynasty, and eight novels dubbed the Marie Antoinette romances. He also penned the fantasy novel The Wolf Leader, which is considered one of the earliest werewolf-themed books. The popularity of his writing made Dumas a household name in France and a celebrity throughout much of Europe.

Personal Life
Dumas had a son, also named Alexandre, with Marie Laure Catherine Labay. His son followed in his literary footsteps. In 1840, Dumas married actress Ida Ferrier, but continued his affairs with other women. He had at least one daughter, Marie Alexandrine, out of wedlock, and dated much younger women in his old age.


Quotes

  • If God were suddenly condemned to live the life which He has inflicted upon men, He would kill Himself.

  • Business? It's quite simple; it's other people's money.

  • It is necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.

  • It is only rarely that one can see in a little boy the promise of a man, but one can almost always see in a little girl the threat of a woman.

  • Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it.

  • All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.

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