Born: Paris, France, 1824 – 1895
ALEXANDER DUMAS, the Younger, ranks as one of the three leading French play writers of the last quarter of the 19th century. Although the theme of illicit love has always played an important part on the French stage, Dumas, more than other French writers, seemed obsessed with this subject. Eleven plays written before 1880 all have *illicit love as the theme.
The experience of his school days when he was constantly taunted with his illegitimacy stayed with him. In his youth, Dumas fils lived a similar Bohemian lifestyle to that of his father, who had publicly acknowledged his son as soon as his own literary reputation was sufficiently established to bring in a dependable income. This life eventually landed Dumas, fils, in debt to the tune of 50,000 francs. Finally, when only his pen stood between himself and disgrace, he brought forth in 1848 the famous Lady of the Camellias (or Camille), first as a novel, then as a play. This drama, however, took three years to get to the stage (1852).
Dumas’ third play, Le Demi-monde, which appeared in 1855, is rated as one of his best plays. There are some who regard it as the classic example of a 19th century comedy.
Dumas – fils was a hard-working author, and very soon an independent and wealthy one. However, his work could never match the same literature acclaim of his father whose novels, The Count of Monte Cristo and Three Musketeers will go down through the ages.
*Illicit – Forbidden love: Love between black person and white person, or a married woman having an affair or Love affair between a rich person and a person of a lower class.