Alexandre Dumas, famous for the novel, The Three Musketeers was a black French writer. He was born, Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie on 24 July 1802 in Villers-Cotterêts, Aisne, France. His father, Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie was born to a French father and an enslaved African woman, Marie-Cessette Dumas on the Island of present day Haiti.
The celebrated and accomplished General, Thomas-Alexandre, his father died of cancer in 1806 when Alexandre was only four. His widowed mother Marie-Louise could not provide her son with much of an education, but Dumas read everything he could. His mother’s stories of Thomas-Alexandre’s bravery during the campaigns of the Revolutionary Wars inspired his imagination. Although poor, the family had their father’s distinguished reputation and aristocratic rank to aid the children’s advancement. In 1822, after the restoration of the monarchy, the 20-year-old Alexandre Dumas moved to Paris. He acquired a position at the Palais Royal in the office of Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans.
Dumas had a son, also named Alexandre, with Marie Laure Catherine Labay. His son followed in his literary footsteps. In 1840, Dumas married actress Ida Ferrier, but continued his affairs with other women. He had at least one daughter, Marie Alexandrine, out of wedlock. He died on December 5, 1870, in Puys, France.
His most famous works include:
- The Three Musketeers (Les Trois Mousquetaires, 1844)
- Georges (1843): The protagonist of this novel is a man of mixed race, a rare allusion to Dumas’ own African ancestry.
- Louis XIV and His Century (Louis XIV et son siècle, 1844)
- The Nutcracker (Histoire d’un casse-noisette, 1844): a revision of Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, later set by composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to music for a ballet
- The Count of Monte Cristo (Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, 1845–1846)
- Twenty Years After (Vingt ans après, 1845)
- The Vicomte de Bragelonne, sometimes called “Ten Years Later”, (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,(A third sequel, The Son of Porthos, 1883 (a.k.a. The Death of Aramis)
The unfinished manuscript of his long-lost novel, Le Chevalier de Sainte-Hermine (The Last Cavalier), was discovered in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in the late 1980s and published in 2005.