Alexandre Dumas, père

Alexandre Dumas, père

Infobox Writer
name = Alexandre Dumas, père

imagesize = 150px
caption = Alexandre Dumas, "père".
birthdate = birth date|1802|7|24|mf=y
birthplace = Villers-Cotterêts, Aisne, France
deathdate = death date and age|1870|12|5|1802|7|24|mf=y
deathplace = Puys (near Dieppe, Seine-Maritime), France
occupation = playwright and novelist
nationality = French
period = 1829–1870
movement = Romanticism and Historical fiction
notableworks = "The Count of Monte Cristo", "The Three Musketeers"
influenced =Stephen King, Steven Brust

Alexandre Dumas, père (French for "father", akin to 'Senior' in English), born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (24 July 1802 — 5 December 1870) was a French writer, best known for his numerous historical novels of high adventure which have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world. Many of his novels, including "The Count of Monte Cristo", "The Three Musketeers", "Twenty Years After", and "The Vicomte de Bragelonne" were serialized. He also wrote plays and magazine articles and was a prolific correspondent.


Alexandre Dumas was born in the village of Villers-Cotterêts in the department of Aisne, northeast of Paris, France, Europe.

Dumas' paternal grandparents were Marquis Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman and "Général commissaire" in the Artillery in the colony of Saint Domingue (now Haiti), and Marie-Cesette Dumas, an Afro-Caribbean former slave. [ [ Alexandre Dumas > Sa vie > Biographie ] ] [ [ «Le métissage rentre au Panthéon» ] ] Their son, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, married Marie-Louise Élisabeth Labouret, the daughter of an innkeeper. Thomas-Alexandre was a general in Napoleon's army who fell into disfavor, rendering his family impoverished.

By the time young Dumas was born his family had lost all pretensions to wealth, and his widowed mother struggled to give him a decent education. General Dumas died in 1806 when Alexandre was three and a half years old. Although Marie-Louise was unable to provide her son with much in the way of education, it did not hinder young Alexandre's love of books, and he read everything he could get his hands on.

While Dumas was growing up, his mother's stories of his father's brave military acts during the glory years of Napoleon I of France spawned Alexandre's vivid imagination for adventure and heroes. Although poor, the family still had the father's distinguished reputation and aristocratic connections, and in 1822, after the restoration of the monarchy, twenty-year-old Alexandre Dumas moved to Paris, where he obtained employment at the Palais Royal in the office of the powerful duc d'Orléans (Louis Philippe).


While working in Paris, Dumas began to write articles for magazines as well as plays for the theater. In 1829 his first solo play, "Henry III and his Court", was produced, meeting with great public acclaim. The following year his second play, "Christine", proved equally popular, and as a result, he was financially able to work full time at writing. In 1830, he participated in the revolution that ousted King Charles X and replaced him on the throne with Dumas' former employer, the duc d'Orléans, who would rule as Louis-Philippe, the "Citizen King".

Until the mid-1830s, life in France remained unsettled with sporadic riots by disgruntled Republicans and impoverished urban workers seeking change. As life slowly returned to normal, the nation began to industrialize and, with an improving economy combined with the end of press censorship, the times turned out to be very rewarding for the skills of Alexandre Dumas.

After writing more successful plays, he turned his efforts to novels. Although attracted to an extravagant lifestyle, and always spending more than he earned, Dumas proved to be a very astute business marketer. With high demand from newspapers for serial novels, in 1838, he simply rewrote one of his plays to create his first serial novel. Titled "Le Capitaine Paul", it led to his forming a production studio that turned out hundreds of stories, all subject to his personal input and direction.

From 1839 to 1841, Dumas, with the assistance of several friends, compiled "Celebrated Crimes", an eight-volume collection of essays on famous criminals and crimes from European history, including essays on Beatrice Cenci, Martin Guerre, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia and more recent incidents including the cases of executed alleged murderers Karl Ludwig Sand and Antoine François Desrues.

Dumas also collaborated with his fencing master Augustin Grisier in his 1840 novel "The Fencing Master". The story is written to be Grisier's narrated account of how he came to be witness to events in the Decembrist revolt in Russia. This novel was eventually banned in Russia by Czar Nicholas I of Russia, causing Dumas to be forbidden to visit Russia until the Czar's death. Grisier is also mentioned with great respect in both "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "The Corsican Brothers" as well as Dumas' memoirs.

On 1 February 1840, he married an actress, Ida Ferrier, born Marguerite-Joséphine Ferrand (1811—1859) but continued with his numerous liaisons with other women, fathering at least four illegitimate children. One of those children, a son named after him, whose mother was Marie-Laure-Catherine Labay (1794—1868), a dressmaker, would follow in his footsteps, also becoming a successful novelist and playwright. Because of their same name and occupation, to distinguish them, one is referred to as Alexandre Dumas, "père", the other as Alexandre Dumas, "fils". His three other children were Marie-Alexandrine Dumas (5 March 1831—1878), who later married Pierre Petel and daughter of Belle Krelsamer (1803—1875), Micaëlla-Clélie-Josepha-Élisabeth Cordier, born in 1860 and daughter of Emélie Cordier, and Henry Bauer, born of an unknown mother.

Dumas made extensive use of the aid of numerous assistants and collaborators, of which Auguste Maquet was the best known. It was Maquet who outlined the plot of "The Count of Monte Cristo" and made substantial contributions to "The Three Musketeers" and its sequels, as well as several of Dumas' other novels. When working together, Maquet proposed plots and wrote drafts, while Dumas added the details, dialogues, and the final chapters.

Dumas' writing earned him a great deal of money, but Dumas was frequently broke or in debt as a result of spending lavishly on women and high living. The large and costly Château de Monte-Cristo that he built was often filled with strangers and acquaintances who took advantage of his generosity.

When King Louis-Philippe was ousted in a revolt, Dumas was not looked upon favorably by the newly elected President, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. In 1851 Dumas fled to Brussels, Belgium, to escape his creditors, and from there he traveled to Russia where French was the second language and his writings were enormously popular. Dumas spent two years in Russia before moving on to seek adventure and fodder for more stories. In March of 1861, the kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, with Victor Emmanuel II as its king. For the next three years, Alexandre Dumas would be involved in the fight for a united Italy, founding and leading a newspaper named "Indipendente" and returning to Paris in 1864.

Despite Alexandre Dumas' success and aristocratic connections, his being of mixed-race would affect him all his life. In 1843, he wrote a short novel, "Georges", that addressed some of the issues of race and the effects of colonialism. He once remarked to a man who insulted him about his mixed-race background:

"My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro and my great grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir: my family starts where yours ends." [cite book |coauthors=Christian Biet, Jean-Paul Brighelli, and Jean-Luc Rispail |title=Alexandre Dumas ou les aventures d'un romancier |date=1986-11-21 |publisher=Découvertes Gallimard |language=French |isbn=2070530213 |pages=75 |quote=Mon père était un mulâtre, mon grand-père était un nègre et mon arrière grand-père un singe. Vous voyez, Monsieur: ma famille commence où la vôtre finit. ] [cite web |url= |title=Dumas et la négritude |accessdate=2008-09-10 |language=French ]

In June 2005, Dumas' recently-discovered last novel "The Knight of Sainte-Hermine" went on sale in France. Within the story, Dumas describes the Battle of Trafalgar in which the death of Lord Nelson is explained. The novel was being published serially and was almost complete by the time of his death. A final two-and-a-half chapters were written by modern-day Dumas scholar Claude Schopp who based his efforts on Dumas' pre-writing notes. [cite web |url= |title=Claude Schopp: The man who gave Dumas 40 mistresses |accessdate=2008-08-19 |last=Crace |first=John |date=2006-05-28 |publisher=The Guardian]


Buried where he had been born, Alexandre Dumas remained in the cemetery at Villers-Cotterêts until 30 November 2002. Under orders of the French President, Jacques Chirac, his body was exhumed, and in a televised ceremony, his new coffin, draped in a blue-velvet cloth and flanked by four Republican Guards costumed as the Musketeers - Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan - was transported in a solemn procession to the Panthéon of Paris, the great mausoleum where French luminaries are interred. In his speech, President Chirac said:

"With you, we were D'Artagnan, Monte Cristo, or Balsamo, riding along the roads of France, touring battlefields, visiting palaces and castles—with you, we dream."cite web |url= |title=Discours prononcé lors du transfert des cendres d’Alexandre Dumas au Panthéon |last=Chirac |first=Jacques |authorlink=Jacques Chirac |date=2002-11-30 |accessdate=2008-08-19 |language=French]

In that speech, President Chirac acknowledged the racism that had existed, saying that a wrong had now been righted with Alexandre Dumas enshrined alongside fellow authors Victor Hugo and Emile Zola. The honor recognized that although France has produced many great writers, none have been as widely read as Alexandre Dumas. His stories have been translated into almost a hundred languages, and have inspired more than 200 motion name|0241416|Alexandre Dumas père]

Alexandre Dumas' home outside of Paris, the Château de Monte-Cristo, has been restored and is open to the public.

The Alexandre Dumas (Paris Métro) station was renamed in his honor in 1970.



Alexandre Dumas, père wrote stories and historical chronicles of high adventure that captured the imagination of the French public who eagerly waited to purchase the continuing sagas. A few of these works are:
* "Charles VII at the Homes of His Great Vassals" ("Charles VII chez ses grands vassaux", 1831), drama, adapted for the opera "The Saracen" by Russian composer César Cui
* "The Fencing Master" ("Le maître d'armes", 1840)
* "Georges" (1843): The protagonist of this novel is a man of mixed race, a rare allusion to Dumas' own African ancestry.
* "The Nutcracker" ("Histoire d'un casse-noisette", 1844): a revision of Hoffmann's story, later adapted by Tchaikovsky as a ballet
* the D'Artagnan Romances:
** "The Three Musketeers" ("Les Trois Mousquetaires", 1844)
** "Twenty Years After" ("Vingt Ans Après", 1845)
** "The Vicomte de Bragelonne" ("Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, ou Dix ans plus tard", 1847): When published in English it was usually split into three parts: "The Vicomte de Bragelonne", "Louise de la Valliere", and "The Man in the Iron Mask", of which the last part is the best known. (A third sequel, "The Son of Porthos" (1883) (a.k.a. "The Death of Aramis") was published under the pen-name of Alexandre Dumas; however, most scholars believe the author to be Paul Mahalin.)
* "The Count of Monte Cristo" ("Le Comte de Monte-Cristo", 1845–1846)
* "The Regent's Daughter" ("Une Fille du Régent", 1845)
* "The Two Dianas" ("Les Deux Diane", 1846)
* the Valois romances
** "La Reine Margot" (1845)
** "La Dame de Monsoreau" (1846) (a.k.a. "Chicot the Jester")
** "The Forty-Five Guardsmen" (1847)
* the Marie Antoinette romances:
** "Joseph Balsamo" ("Mémoires d'un médecin: Joseph Balsamo", 1846–1848) (a.k.a. "Memoirs of a Physician", "Cagliostro", "Madame Dubarry", "The Countess Dubarry", or "The Elixir of Life")
** "The Queen's Necklace" ("Le Collier de la Reine", 1849–1850)
** "Ange Pitou" (1853) (a.k.a. "Storming the Bastille" or "Six Years Later")
** "The Countess de Charny" ("La Comtesse de Charny", 1853–1855) (a.k.a. "Andrée de Taverney" or "The Mesmerist's Victim")
** "Le Chevalier de Maison-Rouge" (1845) (a.k.a. "The Knight of the Red House", or "The Knight of Maison-Rouge")
* "The Black Tulip" ("La Tulipe Noire", 1850)
* "The Wolf-Leader" ("Le Meneur de Loups", 1857)
* "The Gold Thieves" (after 1857): a play that was lost but rediscovered by the Canadian Reginald Hamel researcher in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in 2004
* "The Companions of Jehu" ("Les Compagnons de Jehu", 1857)
* "The Whites and the Blues" ("Les Blancs et Les Bleus", 1867)
* "The Knight of Sainte-Hermine" ("Le Chevalier de Sainte-Hermine", 1869): This nearly completed novel was his last major work and was lost until its rediscovery by Claude Schopp in 1988 and subsequent release in 2005.


Although best known now as a novelist, Dumas earned his first fame as a dramatist. His "Henri III et sa cour" (1829) was the first of the great Romantic historical dramas produced on the Paris stage, preceding Victor Hugo's more famous "Hernani" (1830). Produced at the Comédie-Française and starring the famous Mademoiselle Mars, Dumas' play was an enormous success, launching him on his career. It had fifty performances over the next year, extraordinary at the time.

Other hits followed. For example, "Antony" (1831), a drama with a contemporary Byronic hero, is considered the first non-historical Romantic drama. It starred Mars' great rival Marie Dorval. There were also "La Tour de Nesle" (1832), another historical melodrama; and "Kean" (1836), based on the life of the great, and recently deceased, English actor Edmund Kean, played in turn by the great French actor Frédérick Lemaître. Dumas wrote many more plays and dramatized several of his own novels.


Dumas was also a prolific writer of non-fiction. He wrote journal articles on politics and culture, and books on French history.

His massive "Grand dictionnaire de cuisine" ("Great Dictionary of Cuisine") was published posthumously in 1873. It is a combination of encyclopedia and cookbook. Dumas was both a gourmet and an expert cook. An abridged version, the "Petit dictionnaire de cuisine" ("Small Dictionary of Cuisine"), was published in 1882.

He was also a well-known travel writer, writing such books as
* "Impressions de voyage: En Suisse" ("Travel Impressions: In Switzerland ", 1834)
* "Une Année à Florence" ("A Year in Florence ", 1841)
* "De Paris à Cadix" ("From Paris to Cadiz ", 1847)
* "Le Caucase" ("The Caucasus", 1859)
* "Impressions de voyage: En Russie" ("Travel Impressions: In Russia ", 1860).

ee also

* Adah Isaacs Menken



* cite book
last = Gorman
first = Herbert
title = The Incredible Marquis, Alexandre Dumas
year = 1929
publisher = Farrar & Rinehart
location = New York
oclc = 1370481

* cite book
last = Hemmings
first = F.W.J.
title = Alexandre Dumas, the king of romance
year = 1979
publisher = Charles Scribner's Sons
location = New York
isbn = 0684163918

* cite book
last = Lucas-Dubreton
first = Jean
others = trans. by Maida Castelhun Darnton
title = The Fourth Musketeer
url =
format = html
year = 1928
publisher = Coward-McCann
location = New York
oclc = 230139

* cite book
last = Maurois
first = André
authorlink = André Maurois
others = trans. by Gerard Hopkins
title = The Titans, a three-generation biography of the Dumas
year = 1957
publisher = Harper & Brothers Publishers
location = New York
oclc = 260126

* cite book
last = Reed
first = F.W. (Frank Wild)
title = A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père
year = 1933
publisher = J.A. Neuhuys
location = Pinner Hill, Middlesex
oclc = 1420223

* cite book
last = Ross
first = Michael
title = Alexandre Dumas
year = 1981
publisher = David & Charles
location = Newton Abbot, London, North Pomfret (Vt)
isbn = 0715377582

* cite book
last = Schopp
first = Claude
title = Alexandre Dumas, Genius of Life
others = trans. by A. J. Koch
year = 1988
publisher = Franklin Watts
location = New York, Toronto
isbn = 0531150933

* cite book
last = Spurr
first = Harry A.
title = The Life and Writings of Alexandre Dumas
year = 1902
month = October
publisher = Frederick A. Stokes, Company
location = New York
oclc = 2999945

External links

* [ Works by Alexandre Dumas] at Internet Archive
* [ The Alexandre Dumas père Web Site] , with a complete bibliography and notes about many of the works.
* [,5478,10904968%255E1702,00.html Herald Sun: Lost Dumas play discovered]
* [ Lost Dumas novel hits bookshelves]
* [ Dumas' Works] : text, concordances and frequency lists
* Rafferty, Terrence. [ "All for One"] , [ "The New York Times"] , August 20, 2006 (a review of the new translation of "The Three Musketeers", ISBN 0670037796)
* [ 1866 Caricature of Alexandre Dumas by André Gill]
* [ Freely downloadable works of Alexandre Dumas in PDF format (text mode)]
* [,%20alexandre&query-join=and Alexandre Dumas Collection] at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin
* [ Alejandro Dumas Vida y Obras] First Spanish Website about Alexandre Dumas and his works.

NAME=Dumas, Alexandre, pére
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Dumas, Alexandre (pére); Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie
DATE OF BIRTH=July 24, 1802
PLACE OF BIRTH=Villers-Cotterêts, France
DATE OF DEATH=December 5, 1870
PLACE OF DEATH=Puys, near Dieppe, France

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