Alexandre Dumas (Sr)
Bio: Alexandre Dumas was one of the most famous and prolific French writers of the 19th century, producing some 250 books. He is best known for his historical novels The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo and was among the first authors to fully exploit the possibilities of roman feuilleton, or "serial novel". Dumas is credited with revitalizing the historical novel in France. His works are riveting, fast-paced adventure tales that blend history and fiction. As a master of dialog and character development, Dumas composed some of the most emulated teaser scenes for his suspenseful chapter endings.
Alexandre was born in Villes-Cotter�ts in 1802. His grandfather was the Marquis Antoine-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie and his grandmother was Marie-C�ssette Dumas, a black slave from J�r�mie, Saint-Domingue (now part of Haiti). She gave birth to Thomas-Alexandre and died when he was young. When they eventually returned to Paris, his grandfather did not approve of his father enlisting the army under the name of Davy de la Pailleterie, so he enlisted as Thomas-Alexandre Dumas. Thomas-Alexandre worked his way to the title of General under Napoleon Bonaparte. His father was a general in Napoleon's army, but after he died, the family lived in poverty. Dumas worked as a notary's clerk until 1823, when he went to Paris to seek his fortune. Because of his elegant handwriting, he secured a position with the Duc d'Orl�ans, who later became King Louis Philippe. He also wrote for the theater and published some obscure magazines. Dumas lived as adventurously as the heroes in his books, taking part in the revolution of July 1830. He later caught cholera during the epidemic of 1832 and traveled to Italy to recuperate.
Dumas married his mistress, the actress Ida Ferrier in 1840, but he soon separated after having spent her entire dowry on the construction of the fantastic ch�teau Montecristo on the outskirts of Paris. In 1855 Dumas was forced to escape his creditors, and spent two years in exile in Brussels. In 1858 he traveled to Russia and in 1860 he went to Italy, where he supported Garibaldi and Italy's struggle for independence. He then remained in Naples as a museum keeper for four years. After his return to France his debts continued to mount. Called "the king of Paris", Dumas earned fortunes and spent them on friends, art, and mistresses. Dumas died of a stroke on December 5, 1870, at Puys, near Dieppe. His illegitimate son Alexandre Dumas (jr.), became a writer, dramatist, and moralist.