His father had been a general in Napoleon's army who had fallen out of favour, and who died in 1806, leaving his family very poorly off.
Alexandre started work (locally) as a notary's clerk, but left in 1823 to seek work in Paris. In the following year he fathered a son who became known as Alexandre fils to distinguish him from his father who then became Alexandre père. This distinction is important since the son also went on to become a writer, though nowhere near so well-known or prolific as his father. The son's most famous work was La Dame aux camélias on which the opera La Traviata was later based.
Alexandre père turned to writing plays and stories, in addition to his day-job, and was finally successful in 1829 when his play Henri III et sa cour was produced. He wrote several more plays after that.
But it is for his historical novels that he is chiefly remembered today. One of the earliest of these was The Three Musketeers which first appeared (in serial form) 1844-5. There were several sequels.
His total published output was huge (15 plays and 250 books) but it must be remembered that he employed, at various times, 73 assistants. He made a lot of money and spent it! He lived an extravagant life-style and an adventurous one, almost as deserving of a book as those he wrote. One of his extravagances was to build a Château de Monte-Cristo on the outskirts of Paris.
He married Ida Ferrier, an actress, in 1840, but they soon separated after he had spent her dowry.
Dumas died of a stroke on 5th December 1870, at Puys, near Dieppe in France, aged 68.
Some of his best-known works are:
For something about the Château d'If see Three Famous Prisons
The Count of Monte Cristo
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