Biography of Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas (born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, 24 July 1802 – 5 December 1870), also known as Alexandre Dumas, père, was a French writer, best known for his historical novels of high adventure. Translated into nearly 100 languages, these 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 originally published as serials. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas' last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by a scholar and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier.
Prolific in several genres, Dumas began his career by writing plays, which were successfully produced from the first. He also wrote numerous magazine articles and travel books; his published works totaled 100,000 pages. In the 1840s, Dumas founded the Théâtre Historique in Paris.
Born and raised in poverty, as his father died when he was four, Dumas faced discrimination because of his ethnic African ancestry, although he was more than three-quarters French. Through his father, who was born in Saint-Domingue, he was the grandson of a French nobleman and a mixed-race slave. His mother was French. As a young man, Dumas' aristocratic rank helped him acquire work with Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans.
With the election of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte in 1851, Dumas fell from favor, and left France for Belgium. After several years, he moved on to Russia for a few years, before going to Italy. In 1861 he founded and published the newspaper, Indipendente, which supported the Italian unification effort. In 1864 he returned to Paris.
Married, Dumas also had numerous affairs, said to total 40. He was known to have at least four illegitimate or "natural" children, including a boy named Alexandre Dumas after him. This son became a successful novelist and playwright, and was known as Alexandre Dumas, fils (son), while the elder Dumas became conventionally known in French as Alexandre Dumas, père (father). Among his affairs, in 1866 Dumas had one with Adah Isaacs Menken, an American actress then at the height of her career and less than half his age. Twentieth-century scholars have found that Dumas fathered another three natural children.