Alexandre Dumas fils (1834)
It was on this date, July 27, 1834, that French novelist and playwright Alexandre Dumas fils, illegitimate son of Alexandre Dumas père – of Three Musketeers and Count of Monte Cristo fame – was born in Paris. Dumas fils left school to pursue literature and it almost eluded him: he sank so deeply into debt that only his outstanding novel, La Dame aux Camélias, saved him. It was later adapted into a play (1852), known in English as Camille, became the basis for the opera La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi, and filmed twice, once starring silent screen actress Theda Bara.
Partly because of his separated parents, and perhaps because his own life was less than strict, Dumas was a severe moralist in his plays and novels. Unlike his more accomplished father – who had lived a Freethinker and died a Catholic – Dumas fils was a Deist with moments of mysticism. He was admitted to the Académie Française in 1874.
Originally published July 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.