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Alexandre Dumas (1802 - 1870)  

Alexandre Dumas was born in Villes-CotterĂȘts. His grandfather was a French nobleman, who had settled in Santo Domingo (now part of Haiti); his paternal grandmother, Marie-Cessette, was an Afro-Caribbean, who had been a black slave in the French colony (now part of Haiti). Dumas's father was a general in Napoleon's army, who had fallen out of favor. After his death in 1806 the family lived in poverty. Dumas worked as a notary's clerk and went in 1823 to Paris to find work. Due to his elegant handwriting he secured a position with the Duc d'OrlĂ©ans, later King Louis Philippe. He also found his place in theater and as a publisher of some obscure magazines. An illegitimate son called Alexandre Dumas fils, whose mother, Marie-Catherine Labay, was a dressmaker, was born in 1824. As a playwright Dumas made his breakthrough with "Henri III et Sa Cour" (1829), produced by the Comedie Francaise. It gained a huge success and Dumas went on to write additional plays, of which "La Tour de Nesle" (1832, "The Tower of Nesle") is considered the greatest masterpiece of French melodrama.
Historical novels brought Dumas enormous fortune, but he could spent money faster than he made it. He produced some 250 books with his 73 assistants. Dumas earned roughly 200,000 francs yearly and received an annual sum of 63,000 francs for 220,000 lines from the newspapers Presse and the Constitutionel. Maquet often proposed subjects and wrote first drafts for some of Dumas' most famous serial novels, including Les Trois Mousquetaires (1844, The Three Musketeers) and Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (1844-45, The Count of Monte-Cristo). Dumas' role in the development of the historical novel owes much to a coincidence. The lifting of press censorship in the 1830s gave rise to a rapid spread of newspapers. Editors began to lure readers by entertaining serial novels. Dumas lived as adventurously as the heroes of his books. He took part in the revolution of July 1830, caught cholera during the epidemic of 1832, and traveled in Italy to recuperate. In 1851 Dumas escaped his creditors - his country house, the Chateau de Monte Cristo. Dumas spent two years in exile in Brussels (1855-57), and then returned to Paris. In 1858 he traveled to Russia and in 1860 he went to Italy, where he supported Garibaldi and Italy's struggle for independence (1860-64). He then remained in Naples as a keeper of the museums for four years. After his return to France his debts continued to mount.
Called as "the king of Paris", Dumas earned fortunes and spent them right away on friends, art and mistresses. Dumas died of a stroke on December 5, 1870, at Puys, near Dieppe. His son Alexandre Dumas fils, became a writer, dramatist, and moralist, who never accepted his father's lifestyle.

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