Alexandre Dumas Biography

At a Glance

Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870) is one of France’s greatest authors and one of the world’s most appreciated novelists. Dumas’s father died when he was a small boy, so he grew up listening to his mother’s stories of his father’s bravery in war. These stories spurred him to write such swashbuckling classics as The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Man in the Iron Mask. In addition to novels, the incredibly prolific Dumas (some critics calculate his collected output to fill nearly 1,000 volumes) also wrote plays, magazine articles, and travel guides. Dumas’s stories have been translated into one hundred languages and made into over two hundred film adaptations.

Facts and Trivia

  • Dumas was always worried about the fact that he was biracial. Someone once insulted him about this fact and he replied, “It is true. My father was a mulatto, my grandmother was a negress, and my great-grandparents were monkeys. In short, sir, my pedigree begins where yours ends.”
  • Dumas did not write his novels alone. He had several assistants who helped him with research. Some even outlined the plots of his novels for him and wrote early drafts. Dumas would then add dialogue and other details.
  • Despite his success, Dumas was often in debt due to spending so much on his mistresses. Though he was married to actress Ida Ferrier, he had at least four illegitimate children.
  • In 2002, French president Jacques Chirac had Dumas’s body exhumed and interred in the same place as Victor Hugo and Voltaire.
  • In 2005, Dumas’s last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, was sold in France. It was not quite finished at the time of his death, so the last two chapters were ghostwritten by Dumas scholar Claude Schopp.

Author Profile

(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

0111204747-Dumas.jpg Alexandre Dumas, père (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Dumas is best known for such romances as The Count of Monte Cristo (1844), The Three Musketeers (1844), and The Man in the Iron Mask (1848-1550). He claimed to have written more than twelve hundred pieces of work, but that figure is an exaggeration. Dumas dealt with many issues pertaining to the history of France in his novels and plays, and he produced his best work during his middle years, from 1835 until 1860. In 1863, Dumas along with his son—who is known as Alexandre Dumas, fils—received a Decree of Condemnation which placed all of his writings on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum by the Roman Catholic church because of their emphasis on “impure love.” He was branded one of the...

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