Alexandre Dumas

Eyridiki Sellou | Jan 15, 2024

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Alexandre Dumas, born as Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (born July 24, 1802 in Villers-Cotterêts, died December 5, 1870 in Dieppe) is a French writer and playwright, author of The Count of Monte Christo and The Three Musketeers.

His father was General Thomas Alexandre Dumas (1762-1806). From the age of sixteen he worked as a chancellor. In 1829 he achieved considerable success with the historical drama Henry III and His Court. In the following years he triumphed on stage with such works as Antony (1831), The Tower of Nesle (1832), Kean (1836) and The Maid of Belle-Isle (1839).

His greatest fame came with the historical and adventure novels he wrote in the 1840s: The Count of Monte Christo (1845), the series about the Musketeers: the Three Musketeers (1844), Twenty Years Later (1845), and the Viscount de Bragelonne (1848). Also gaining great popularity: a series about the Valois: Queen Margot (1845), Madame de Monsoreau (1846) and Forty-five (1847-1848), and the series Memoirs of a Physician: Joseph Balsamo (1847-1848), The Queen's Necklace (1849-1850), The Angel of Pitou (1851), The Countess de Charny (1852-1855) and The Chevalier de Maison-Rouge (1845-1846). He left behind more than two hundred works.

His love novels (omnes fabulae amatoriae) were all placed in the index librorum prohibitorum by decree in 1863.

Early years

Alexandre Dumas was born on July 24, 1802, in Villers-Cotterêts, in a house on Lormelet Street. His father, Thomas Alexandre Dumas, was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue on the island of Haiti. He was the son of the Marquis de la Pailleterie and a black slave, Cessette Dumas. He earned the rank of general in the army of revolutionary France. In 1792 he married Marie Louise Labouret, daughter of an innkeeper from Villers-Cotterêts. In the Italian campaign he distinguished himself with bravado. During the Egyptian campaign, he quarreled with the commander-in-chief, Napoleon Bonaparte. During his lonely return to France, he was imprisoned in Naples. After two years seriously ill, he returned to his wife. Because of Napoleon's disfavor, the general's family lived in poverty for the rest of his life. The writer's father died in 1806. The general's widow, having received a concession to run a trafique, opened a small store in Villers-Cotterêts.

Little Dumas was not eager to learn, as a child he only learned reading and calligraphy, to which he felt drawn, in addition to horseback riding and fencing. He spent most of his time in the forests surrounding his hometown.

At the age of sixteen, he took a job as a law clerk with the notary, Mr. Mennesson. He spent his free time riding horses and making out. In Villers he fell in love for the first time, with Adela Dalwin. Influenced by a performance of Hamlet, played by a traveling troupe from Soissons, he and his friend Adolphe de Leuven founded a local theater, for which they wrote several plays between 1820 and 1822, including the most successful one, a vaudeville with couplets by the Major of Strassburg. Leuven later left for Paris, and Adela married.

First steps in Paris

Alone, Dumas set off in 1823, following his friend to the capital. Thanks to his father's acquaintance, General Foy , he got a job in the chancellery of the Duke of Orléans (the future King Louis Philippe). To his colleague, Mr. Lassagne, he was indebted for acquainting himself in the first years of his stay in Paris with works of French and foreign classical literature. He also frequented the theater frequently and fondly. During one performance he met the critic Charles Nodier, who was to help him make his theatrical debut in the future. Together with Leuven, he staged a one-act vaudeville, Hunting and Love, in Ambigu, on which he earned 300 francs, the three-month salary he earned at the firm. He then took up residence on the Place des Italiens with seamstress Catherine Labay, who gave birth to his son Alexander on July 27, 1824. Thanks to the increase at the chancellery, he brought his mother to Paris and rented a separate apartment for her.

Influenced by the performance of English actors staging Shakespeare in Paris, he decided to take up a historical subject - the assassination by order of Queen Christina of Sweden of Giovanni Monaldeschi in 1657. After writing the play, thanks to Nodier's support, the play was accepted by the director of the French Theater. However, it was ultimately thwarted by the star of the local stage, Miss Mars. Soulié's Christine was performed at the French Theater. Undaunted by the failure, Dumas wrote another historical drama in two months about the Duke de Guise's punishment of his cheating wife, titled Henry III and His Court. The play, which premiered on February 11, 1829, was a huge success and was performed 38 times. It became an important event in the war between the Romantics and the classics at the time.

Wanting to have his hands free, Dumas resigned from his job as a chancellor and took a loan of 3,000 francs, equivalent to his two-year salary. Income from Henry III, published in book form, doubled this sum. After the success of Henry III, Dumas became the ornament of Nodier's literary salon. Powerfully built, bedecked with jewels and trinkets, and a great raconteur, if a bit boastful, he attracted the attention of guests. At one meeting he met the daughter of the scholar Villaneve - Melania Waldor, the wife of an infantry captain stationed outside Paris. Dumas launched an assault on her heart. After three months, she succumbed. With the money he earned, Dumas then rented a house in Passy for Catherine Labay and his son, and an apartment on rue l'Université for himself and Melania.

At the request of Felix Harel, director of the Odeon theater, Dumas revised his Christina and the play was staged on March 30, 1830. Christina was no match for Henry III - it mixed literary types, and was written in verse, which was not Dumas' forte. However, at a reception after the premiere, friends Hugo and de Vigny made the necessary corrections and the second performance was received with enthusiasm. After the performance, Dumas met Marie Dorval, his next lover.

In the months that followed, Dumas prevented Melania's husband from coming to Paris, wrote fiery letters to her and simultaneously cheated on her with Marie Dorval, Louisa Despteux and Virginia Bourbier. He was writing another Antony play at the time, a drama no longer historical, but contemporary, in which he introduced a faithful wife to the stage, modeled on Melania Waldor, a character who would establish herself on the stage of 19th-century theater for many decades. In May, Bella Krelsamer showed up in Paris, and in the following months she would oust from his life not only his minor loves, but also Melania Waldor.


Upon hearing of the outbreak of the July Revolution, Dumas donned Republican garb. He fought on the barricades, and when the revolutionaries ran out of gunpowder, he went, with the approval of General La Fayette, to Soissons and brought the necessary supplies from there. He later tried to organize a national guard in the Vendée, but without success. He hoped to receive a minister's portfolio for his services, when the king dispelled it, he returned to the theater. At the request of Harel and Miss George, he wrote Napoleon Bonaparte's Odeon for the theater in a week. The play was not a success. Meanwhile, as a result of the lifting of censorship, the French Theater began Antony's rehearsals. Once again, Miss Mars, to whom the play did not suit her, led on the eve of the premiere to push back the play's staging date and marginalize it. Dumas withdrew the drama and donated it to the Porte-Saint-Martin theater. The leading female role was played by Marie Dorval. The play premiered on May 3, 1831 and was a stunning success. It was performed 130 times in Paris and for years in the provinces. Critics hailed the play as the fulfillment of the ideal of romantic love, and Dumas as the most outstanding playwright of his generation. French men carried themselves in the image of Antony, and French women in the image of Adela, the main character of the drama.

At this time there were serious tensions in the writer's private life. Bella Krelsamer gave birth to his daughter Maria Alexandra in March 1831. Melania Waldor made scenes of jealousy, wrote letters, pestered Bella, and finally calmed down - she was also a writer and poet, so she needed Dumas' help. Bella demanded that Dumas recognize his daughter, which also prompted the writer to take belated action for the recognition of his son Alexander. On March 17, he obtained a deed of recognition of his son, transferring parental authority over the boy. The mother, despite her struggle, had to give in. After all, young Alexander resisted, did not recognize the right of his father's mistress to direct his life, and Dumas, resigned, eventually placed him in boarding school.

The writer's next play, Charles VII at His Great Vassals, which premiered at the Odeon on October 20, 1831, was received rather coolly by audiences. The story of a woman in love with a man who does not love her, recommending that he be killed by a man in love with her, whom she in turn does not love, did not captivate the audience. In addition, the main female role - written for the ethereal Maria Dorval - was played by the powerful Miss George. Meanwhile, Prosper Goubaux and Jacob Beudin brought Dumas a draft of the drama Richard Darlington, for which they could not find an ending. Dumas reworked the main character for Frederic Lemaitre, who excelled in the roles of cynical and ruthless characters, and eventually got rid of Richard's wife by throwing her out the window. The play was enthusiastically received by the audience.

It was still being played, and already a sketch of a play by melodrama maker Anicet Bourgeois, entitled Thérèse, was brought to Dumas. The sketch did not please Dumas very much except for the supporting female role, for which Bocage suggested Ida Ferrier. Ida won great success in the play, and Dumas was so enamored of the actress that she became his mistress. Bella Krelsamer was at the time on a performance in the province. Upon her return, a brawl ensued between the two women.

When Carnival came, Bocage persuaded Dumas to give a ball. Dumas rented a spacious apartment for this purpose, which was decorated by the best painters of the time. The ball was attended by the most prominent writers, painters and actors, as well as representatives of the political world, more than 400 people in all. The following day, the press stressed that no one in Paris would have been able to give such a ball except Dumas.

Meanwhile, Harel submitted to the writer Frederic Gaillardet's play Portrait of Saint-Martin, revised by Julius Janin, but still not suitable for staging. Dumas added an introduction, a scene in prison, cutting dialogue and highlighted the essence of the drama, which is the battle between the adventurer Buridan, armed with the power of his genius, and Queen Marguerite of Burgundy, equipped with the might of her position. The play, titled The Tower of Nesle, premiered on May 29, 1832. The roles of the main protagonists were played by Miss Georges and Bocage. The success of the play was enormous.

Between 1832 and 1833, Dumas managed to divide his life between Bella and Ida. The first year he lived with one, the next he moved in with the other. The peaceful coexistence was facilitated by the fact that both were actresses, and he lavished both on one and the other. In 1832, Aniela Dumas had some success. Later that year, the playwright, accused of participating in a republican demonstration, went to Switzerland for several months out of caution. The fruits of his stay were two volumes of Travel Impressions, which were published in the Revue de Deux Mondes. The writer also skilled himself in writing historical stories during this time.

In 1833, Ida starred in Catherine Howard. The play damaged Victor Hugo's Maria Tudor and the actress and mistress he promoted, Julia Drouet. In retaliation, Hugo's journalist friend Granier de Cassagnac wrote a lampoon on Dumas. The authors, who had hitherto lived in harmony, quarreled with each other. Some time later, Dumas asked Hugo to be a second in a duel and thus settled the dispute.

In 1835, the writer traveled to Italy, from where he brought back three dramas, a translation of The Divine Comedy and another volume of Travel Impressions. In Lyon, on his way back, he seduced Jacinta Meynier without success. The year 1836 brought him another triumph: the drama Kean or Disorder and Genius, a work about the tragically deceased prominent English actor. A draft of the work, penned by Théaulon and Courcy, Frederic Lemaître, dissatisfied with the text, brought it to Dumas, who expanded the plot and changed the dialogues. The premiere took place at the Varieté theater. In 1836, Hugo and Dumas were awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor. From then on, the writer was fond of parading adorned with numerous decorations, which he dished out or bought during his many travels.

On August 1, 1836, the artist's mother died. After her death, Dumas had already moved in permanently with Ida Ferrier, who watched his amorous affairs through her fingers. He, in turn, kept her royally, took her on all his travels, and in 1837 secured her a position as the first amante at the Comédie Française, in exchange for two plays written especially for the stage. Ida made her debut on the stage of this theater with a role in Dumas' Caligula, which, despite its complicated plot, received good reviews.

In the same year, Hugo and Dumas, already reconciled, made efforts to open a new theater in Paris, of which they appointed Antenor Joly as director. On the stage of the new theater, named Rennaisance, Dumas staged The Alchemist, written in partnership with Gerard de Nerval, in 1838. The two authors had already co-written the comedy Piquillo for Jenny Colon, with whom Nerval was in love, and at the same time as The Alchemist they wrote Leo Burckart, which was eventually signed by Nerval himself. The leading role in The Alchemist was played by Ida Ferrier, whom Dumas married on February 1, 1840. According to an anecdote, he did so at the express request of the Duke of Orleans. Melania Waldor violently protested against the marriage, and Bella Krelsamer filed a complaint with the court to give her daughter away.

Faced with the failure of his recent dramas, Dumas decided to try his hand at comedy and in 1839 staged Miss de Belle-Isle. Set in the 18th century, the play revolves around the bet of the Duc de Richelieu, the conqueror of women's hearts, that he will become the lover of the first woman who enters the salon by the evening. Staged at the French Theater, the comedy made a splash and received favorable reviews from critics. Encouraged by its success, in 1841 the artist staged another comedy, Marriage in the Time of Louis XVI, the story of spouses who, having separated, recognize their mistake, abandon their lovers and reunite. His next comedy, The Mistresses de Saint-Cyr, was not so successful. Encouraged by Victor Hugo's nomination, Dumas sought admission to the French Academy at this time, without success.

During this time, his son, Alexander, went to live with Dumas. He took part for a while in his swaggering and disorderly life, and finally, unable to stand Mrs. Dumas, left for Marseille. Meanwhile, the Dumas marriage broke down. Ida, who betrayed Dumas soon after their marriage, some time later seduced Edoardo Alliato, Duke of Villafranca, in Florence, and from 1840 spent several months a year with him. In 1844, the Dumases decided to part ways.


The renaissance of the historical novel initiated by Walter Scott and the demand for this type of literature in France after the fall of Napoleon, during whose reign the French came into personal contact with great history, pushed French writers toward the historical novel. Dumas, who was neither erudite nor a scholar, took up the historical novel thanks to his associates. Nerval's friend with whom Dumas collaborated in the late 1830s - August Maquet - brought him a play that, after Dumas' revisions, was staged in 1839 as Mathilde, under Maquet's name. A year later, Maquet brought Dumas a draft of the novel Buvat, the story of a conspiracy by the Spanish ambassador Cellamare, who was expelled from France for plotting against the regent, viewed through the eyes of a humble copyist with little understanding of the events taking place.

The novel's connoisseurship was rocked in France by two dailies: La Presse and Le Siécle, which sustained themselves through subscriptions. The best way to keep subscribers turned out to be the novel in episodes. Dumas had already published the novel Captain Paul in Le Siécle in 1838, which gave the newspaper 5,000 subscribers. A draft brought by Maquet, after Dumas' rewrites, was submitted to Le Siécle in 1842 under the title Chevalier d'Harmental. Dumas wanted him and Maquet to be listed as authors. However, the editors replied that they paid 3 francs per line for Dumas' name, and 30 su for both names, ten times less. Eventually, therefore, the novel was published under Dumas' name. Its success was tremendous and pushed the two authors to make further novel attempts.

There is no consensus on who was the first, Maquet or Dumas, to discover "Memoirs of Monsieur d'Artagnan, Captain-Lieutenant of His Majesty's First Company of Musketeers," an apocryphal work by Gatien de Courtilz, published in Cologne in 1700. Undoubtedly, however, numerous episodes of the novel, as well as the names - slightly altered - were borrowed from Courtilz. Maquet and Dumas added episodes with Madame Bonacieux and Milady de Winter. Maquet compiled the novel's brief as usual: he queried historical sources and took care of the historical background of the events described. Dumas added thousands of details to enliven the text, added dialogues, worked out chapter endings and stretched them to suit the press. He also introduced new characters, including the taciturn Grimaud, for whose brief statements he received the most effective lines, until the newspaper introduced a stipulation that a line must exceed the width of half a column. The book was a remarkable success. Dumas turned the unsympathetic adventurers in Courtilz's diary into legendary figures, "the living spirit of France."

Dumas treated historical facts without ceremony. Whenever it was necessary to give a vivid scene he wrote it like a stage for the theater. He deftly dosed the effects of surprise, horror and comedy. His characters - costumed, colorful, somewhat caricatured - gave the illusion of life. He portrayed historical figures in a biased way, loving his characters or hating them.

The Three Musketeers was published in 1844. A year later came out, set around the events of the Fronde and the English Revolution, a continuation of the adventures of the brave musketeers: Twenty Years Later. In the same year, 1845, Dumas launched yet another trilogy, this time set during the reign of the last Valois, the novel Queen Margot, about the battle between Catherine de Medici and Henry Navarre. That same year saw the publication of The Chevalier of the Maison-Rouge, a love story wrapped around the events of the French Revolution.

Dumas' success spawned a wave of criticism. Loménie accused him of industrialism. Mirecourt wrote a pamphlet: The Novel Factory. The Company of Alexander Dumas and Company, in which he exposed the real authors of Dumas's plays and novels, rudely attacking the author and his family.

After Ida moved out, father and son moved in together again. In 1846, they took a trip to Spain Algeria. At the time, the government was looking for a way to interest the French in its North African colony. Someone advised the Minister of Education to finance Dumas' trip to Algeria and oblige him to write memoirs of the trip upon his return.

Dumas was at the height of his career. Governments treated him like a master. His novels were selling brilliantly. In 1846, he published the continuation of the Valois trilogy: the Mme de Monsoreau," an engaging chronicle of the reign of Henry III, and Joseph Balsamo initiating another series, entitled Memoirs of a Physician, describing the twilight and decline of the French monarchy in the 18th century. He also adapted his novels for the stage. Crowds were drawn to The Musketeers, staged in Ambigu and running from seven in the evening until one in the morning, and there was not a single love scene in the drama.

Monte Christo

In 1842, while traveling in Italy, Dumas saw a small island called Monte Christo. The name delighted him. The following year, he signed a contract for eight volumes entitled Impressions of Paris. After the success of Secrets of Paris, publishers insisted that it be an adventure novel. Dumas turned to the Memoirs extracted from the archives of Paris police officer Jacob Peuchet, for the chapter telling the fate of Parisian shoemaker Picaud. Denounced by envious rivals just days before his wedding, he is sent to prison, from which he emerges after seven years and, under assumed identities, kills his three abusers, then dies himself.

The theme was as if created for Dumas. His hero took revenge by exacting justice. Dumas carried in his heart secret resentments against society in general and a few enemies in particular. His father had been a victim of Napoleon, he himself had been reprimanded by creditors and scribes. Influenced by a conversation with Maquet, the writer decided to develop the first parts of the novel giving these parts the titles: Marseilles and Rome. His Dantès will be an unrelenting avenger, but he will not be a feral murderer. Wanting to lighten the darkness of the novel, Dumas added the main character's eastern lover Haydée, with whom he sails off into the distance at the end of the novel, having first associated the marriage of a friend's son.

The success of the novel, published between 1845 and 1846, exceeded his wildest expectations. Dumas, who had never been able to separate life from novelistic fiction, felt himself a nabob and embarked on a plan to build Monte Christo's castle. Back in 1843, he rented the Villa Medici in Saint-Germain-en-Laye and opened a theater there. He brought in actors, kept and fed them, and guaranteed their fees, drowning his fortune in this venture for fun. After the success of The Count of Monte Christo, he bought a piece of forest in Bongival, on the road to Saint-Germain. The forest was transformed into an English park. At the wrought iron gate stood two pavilions for servants in the style of Walter Scott. In the middle of the park was erected a "castle" - a mansion of four stories, surrounded by a frieze of carved heads of geniuses from Homer to Dumas. Above the porch, the artist had the motto: "I love the one who loves me." A minaret rose from the facade. The first floor was occupied by a salon in the style of Louis XIV, the next floors were rooms for guests. Two hundred meters from the castle a miniature Gothic tower was built. The whole project cost the writer about 500,000 francs. Dumas invited 600 friends to the opening of his new residence on July 25, 1848.

Dumas himself occupied a small chamber in the castle with an iron bed and a wooden table, at which he worked from morning to evening. He continued to write and publish quite a lot during these years: the Two Diana's (Forty-five (1847-1848), the last part of a trilogy set during the Valois dynasty, in which Diana de Monsoreau takes revenge on the Duke of Andegavia for the death of her lover; the Viscount de Bragelonne (1848-1850), the third part of a series about musketeers based on the Memoirs of the Duchess of La Fayette. In addition, he welcomed anyone who showed up. Guests living in the "castle," whom he often did not even know, cost him several hundred thousand francs a year. Women were now changing rapidly: first Louis Beaudoin, then Celesta Scrivaneck - the "Sultana of 1848."

On February 21, 1847, Dumas opened his own theater, which he called the Historic Theater. The theater's inaugural performance of Queen Margot lasted nine hours. A crowd of ten thousand onlookers gathered in front of the building on the day of the premiere. The premiere was graced with the presence of the Prince de Montpensier. The role of the queen mother was played by Beatrice Person, a favorite of the writer at the time. After Queen Margot, Dumas staged Hamlet, with his own happy ending. The Historical Theater's first season brought in 707,905 francs in revenue. The second began with the success of Chevalier de Maison Rouge. On February 7, 1848, the theater introduced a novelty, a play performed over two evenings: Monte Christo. This play, too, had excellent attendance until February 24, the day the 1848 Revolution broke out.


The halls of theaters were deserted. Dumas tried to go into politics. He ran unsuccessfully for election to the Chamber of Deputies from the department of Yonne. The box office of the Historic Theater shone empty, while the writer ordered more plays and engaged new actors. Monte Christo's residence was seized for debts of more than 230,000 francs. Ida Ferrier also sued for the return of a dowry of 100,000 francs. The court ruled on the separation of the marital estate and obliged Dumas to return the dowry of 120 thousand francs and pay alimony of 6 thousand francs a year. In an effort to save his estate, Dumas put it up for fictitious sale. The writer, though ruined, was still very generous. He supported actors who remained unemployed. He organized Maria Dorval's funeral for all her medals and decorations, which were taken to a pawn shop. In tribute to the actress, he published a booklet: Maria Dorval's Last Year. At the beginning of 1849, he staged Three Anthems to Molière's "Love the Physician." The play was whistled by the audience. He continued to write a lot. In 1849, he published the second part of the series Memoirs of a Physician, entitled The Queen's Necklace, in 1850: The Black Tulip, and in 1851: The Angel of Pitou, the third part of Memoirs of a Physician.

In 1851, after the political upheaval and the seizure of power by Napoleon III, Dumas and other writers went into exile in Belgium. Probably also to escape his creditors. Since he was not a political exile himself, he appeared briefly in Paris from time to time, where he left his current chosen heart, Isabella Constant, known as "Zirzabella." In January 1852, the furnishings of his Paris apartment were sold to cover the commons. On January 20, the writer was declared bankrupt. Although the debts of the Historical Theater were separated from personal debts, the liabilities amounted to 107,215 francs. The list of creditors announced in April 1853 included 153 people.

In Brussels, Dumas, though without capital, rented two houses, had the interior walls thrown up and created for himself a beautiful palace with an entrance gate and balcony. He took on an exile, Noël Parfait, as his secretary, who took his principal's interests into his own hands, and also took on the task of transcribing novels, memoirs and comedies, which Dumas produced at such a pace that professional copyists could not keep up with him. To save himself time, Dumas did not put punctuation marks.

Parfait enforced the former dues. Thanks to the new intendant, Dumas's situation improved: he was able to lead a lavish life and entertain exiles with dinners. At this time, the writer was floating a project to write a series of novels from the time of Jesus to the present day. His personal situation was further complicated by his adventures with women. He brought his daughter Maria to Belgium, in whom he wanted a sidekick for amorous maneuvering between Mrs. Guidi, Person and Constant. Maria, however, was either unable or unwilling to hide her fatherly inconstancy, exposing the writer to numerous misunderstandings.

He printed his novels (including another volume of the doctor's memoirs: The Countess de Charny) some in Paris, others in Brussels. He staged plays under an assumed name in order to receive royalties for them. On April 1, 1852, Benvenuto Cellini, adapted from Ascanio's novel, was staged. The leading role in it was played by Isabella Constant. In Brussels, Dumas also began writing his memoirs.

At the end of 1852, the group of exiles dispersed. Hugo left for Jersey - Dumas escorted him to the ship. At the beginning of 1853, a settlement was signed for the bankruptcy of the Historic Theater. The writer got 55% and the creditors 45% of the assets.


Having returned to Paris, he founded the evening journal The Musketeer. In the first issue, he announced the printing of 50 volumes of his memoirs. In addition to his memoirs, which became the main item of each issue, he also printed in the journal The Mohicans of Paris, The Companions of Yehuda, and a series of Great Men in Robes. Initially, the journal was so successful that influential publishers: Millaud and Villemessant offered Dumas to buy back the title. However, the writer refused. The crash of "The Musketeer" soon followed. First the unpaid contributors began to disappear, then the number of subscribers, weary of the homogeneity of the offer, increasingly declined.

Dumas, to console himself, visited a lot during this time. He was seen at the home of Princess Mathilde, a close cousin of Napoleon III, who from 1857 also took the writer's son into her care. In 1857, Ida Ferrier died. In the same year, the writer's daughter married.

In 1858, Dumas made a trip to Russia. In the same year Maquet sued him for failure to keep his financial obligations, but lost. Dumas reneged on other commitments as well - he promised to pay his daughter a dowry of 120,000 francs and failed to do so. In 1860 he got an advance of 120 thousand francs, on account of the agreement made to publish all his works. He had the two-masted ship "Emma" built for himself in Marseilles with this money and set off with his new lover Emilia Cordier on a journey to the East.


Upon hearing of Garibaldi's intended landing in Sicily, he joined the expedition and transported some of the revolutionary troops to the island. After the victory in Sicily, Garibaldi intended to move on Naples. Since he ran out of funds, Dumas mortgaged his yacht and donated all the money he had to the revolutionaries. On September 7, 1860, wearing a red shirt, he entered Naples with Garibaldi. Taking part in the expulsion of the Neapolitan Bourbons, he took a kind of revenge on those who had imprisoned and crippled his father years before.

After the victory, Garibaldi appointed Dumas director of antiquities and assigned him the Chiatamone palace as his apartment. The writer founded the journal "Independence" and practically filled it himself, writing introductory articles, variety stories, news, long historical articles and, of course, a novel episode. They were written during this time: History of the Neapolitan Bourbons in 11 volumes, the novel La San Felice, and Garibaldi's Memoirs. Meanwhile, on December 24, 1860, Emilia gave birth to his daughter Micela in Paris. Having become involved in political feuds and disputes, Dumas lived to see a demonstration demanding that he leave Naples.

In October 1862, he engaged in a new project. He donated his yacht and the rest of the money to Prince Skanderberg, president of the Greek-Albanian junta, for an expedition against the Turks. Skanderberg turned out to be an impostor who misappropriated Dumas' gift. Shortly thereafter, Garibaldi relinquished power in Naples and left the city. Dumas also did not remain in Naples and returned to Paris. He graduated from La San Felice and Garibaldi. Emilia demanded marriage, he was only willing to acknowledge their daughter.

Recent years

Returning to Paris, he took with him a singer, Fanny Gordosa. He settled first on Richelieu Street, and in 1864 rented the villa "Catinat" in Enghien. Fanny practiced vocalizations, surrounded by a crowd of bakers, while Dumas worked on the second floor. Numerous women passed through Enghien: Aimée Desclée, Blanche Pierson, Agar - actually Leonida Charvin, Esther Guimond and Olympia Andouard. To Matilda Schoebel, Dumas explained that he had mistresses through humanitarianism: if he had one woman, she would die before the week was out. Upon his return to Paris, he would give a lavish dinner every Thursday, until Fanny caught him in flagranti with his mistress in the theater box and fled from him with the rest of his money. After Fanny left, he took in his daughters Maria and Micela.

In 1865, Dumas staged two dramas: The Mohicans of Paris and The Prisoner of the Bastille. At the same time, he was printing one of his best novels, La San Felice, which is set in Naples in the early 19th century during the time of Maria Carolina, Lady Hamilton and Nelson. The Paris Theater also revived The Foresters, one of the writer's better plays, which premiered in Marseilles, in 1858, during this time.

In the same year, the publisher, Daniel Lévy, gave Dumas 40,000 francs in gold for an illustrated edition of his works, but even this money the writer quickly spent. It was said of him that he gained wealth ten times and went bankrupt eleven times. He himself said at the end of his life that he should have had a 200,000 franc annual pension, but had 200,000 in debt.

In 1866, he left Paris. He visited Naples, Florence and Germany. He brought back from the trip a well-written novel, The Prussian Terror, in which he warned against German resentments. But the needs of the public were different, and no one wanted to take the old writer's warnings seriously.

His debts grew steadily, and most of his furniture was sold to pay for them. In 1867, he met Ada Menken, a young American voltaire player of Jewish descent, who had performed successfully in Europe in Mazeppa and Pirates of the Savannah. The two flaunted their mutual love, seeking publicity. Dumas posed with his lover for photographs, which the photographer put up for public sale in exchange for debts. This led to a series of attacks on the writer in the press. Dumas, however, was crazy about his American woman, disregarding the unpleasantness.

In an attempt to salvage his finances and find the means to pamper his new chosen one, Dumas founded the magazine "D'Artagnan," which collapsed after a short time. In 1868, he traveled to Le Havre for readings. There he met with his daughter Micela and with Ada Menken, battered after falling from a horse. The artist died on August 10. However, two months later, on October 22, Catherine Labay, the mother of his first son, who had tried to marry his parents at the end of their lives, died.

Dumas spent the summer of 1869 in Brittany, where he worked on The Kitchen Dictionary. The following March, he submitted the work to a publisher. It was about to be published after his death. In the spring of 1870, he left for the south of France. He was already very weak and hoped that the southern sun would strengthen him. In Marseilles he learned of the outbreak of war with Prussia and the first defeats of the French army. Under the influence of this news, he suffered a stroke. Half paralyzed, he crawled to Puys, near Dieppe, where his son lived. He soon stopped speaking. He spent the last months of his life in his son's villa. When the weather was nice he was driven in a chair to the beach. He died on Monday, December 5, 1870, at six in the afternoon. He was buried in Neuville-les-Pollet, one kilometer from Dieppe. After the war, his son had his coffin transported to Villers-Cotterêts.

In 2002, at the request of the French president, his body was moved to the Pantheon in Paris.

Alexandre Dumas' home, Château Monte Cristo, has been restored and opened to the public.

Dumas' books have been translated into nearly two hundred languages, and more than 200 films have been based on them.

The novel The Count of Monte Christo inspired François Taillandier to write its sequel, Memoirs of the Count of Monte Christo, and Julius Verne to write the novel Matthew Sandorf.


  1. Alexandre Dumas
  2. Alexandre Dumas
  3. W Polsce znany także jako Aleksander Dumas i Aleksander Dumas, ojciec; zobacz też Aleksander Dumas, syn.
  4. Index librorum prohibitorum Ssmi D.N. Leonis XIII iussu et auctoritate recognitus et editus: praemittuntur constitutiones apostolicae de examine et prohibitione librorum, Rzym 1900, s. 116.
  5. a b A. Maurois: Trzej panowie Dumas. s. 12–45.
  6. A. Maurois: Trzej panowie Dumas. s. 45–56.
  7. A. Maurois: Trzej panowie Dumas. s. 56–67.
  8. Selon Alexandre Dumas dans Les Trois Mousquetaires, Folio Classique, Gallimard, Paris, 2001, p. 704.
  9. Sa mère lui déclare que le patrimoine familial s'élève à 353 francs or.
  10. De Paris à Astrakan (publié en deux fois, 1858-1859, puis 1861-1862, et par la suite refondu en 1865 sous le titre En Russie) et Le Caucase (publié en 1859 après la première partie de Paris à Astrakan)
  11. Beknopte Literaire Encyclopedie.
  13. Rotterdamsche Courant, 15 mei 1849
  14. ^ The père is French for 'father', to distinguish him from his son Alexandre Dumas fils.

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