Alexandre Dumas was born in 1802 at Villers-Cotterêts. His father, the illegitimate son of a marquis, was a general in the Revolutionary armies, but died when Dumas was only four. He received very little early education, but when he joined the household of the future king, Louis-Philippe, at age 22, he began reading voraciously. A year later he entered the cénacle of Charles Nodier and started writing. In 1829, the production of his play Henri III et sa cour began twenty years of successful playwriting. In 1839, he turned his attention to writing historical novels, often using collaborators such as Auguste Maquet to suggest plots or historical background. His most successful novels are The Count of Monte Cristo, which appeared during 1844-5, and The Three Musketeers, published in 1844. There are two sequels to the latter: Twenty Years After and Vicomte de Bragelonne, sometimes called Ten Years Later. The third tale is now published in three volumes: Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Vallière and Man in the Iron Mask). Other novels deal with the wars of religion and the French Revolution. Dumas wrote many of these for the newspapers, often in daily installments, marshalling his formidable energies to produce ever more in order to pay off his debts. In addition, he wrote travel books, children's stories and his Mémoires which describe most amusingly his early life, his entry into Parisian literary circles and the 1830 Revolution. He died in 1870.
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