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Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas is arguably the most renowned French author of the nineteenth century. His novels include The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Born in 1802 in the small town of Villers-Cotterêts near Paris, Dumas was the grandson of a slave from Haiti and the son of a general in Napoleon’s army. His birth coincided with the Haitian Revolution, an anti-slavery and anti-colonial insurrection by self-liberated slaves against French colonial rule which resulted in the independence of Haiti (then Saint-Domingue) in 1804. After his father’s death, Dumas moved to Paris in pursuit of work to lift his family out of poverty. He worked as a clerk and his stylish script earned him employment with the Duc d’Orléans who later became King Louis-Phillipe I. He began to write for the theatre and by age 25 his works were produced by the Comedie-Francaise. He wrote prolifically, publishing plays, novels, short stories, children’s stories and even a culinary dictionary. Alexandre Dumas died in 1870 and in 2002 his remains were moved to the Panthéon, a mausoleum reserved for eminent citizens who played the most significant roles in shaping France’s national identity.