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The father – General Dumas

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Thomas-Alexandre Dumas   Captain Rainsford and a black Haitian soldier
Thomas-Alexandre Dumas (1762-1806): Alexandre's father
British Library W4/8783, vol.4
Copyright © The British Library Board
  Capt Rainsford and a black Haitian soldier (1805)
British Library 797.dd.10
Copyright © The British Library Board

Thomas-Alexandre Dumas was the son of Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie and a slave, Louise-Céssette Dumas, on the Caribbean island colony of Saint Domingue (now called Haiti). When his son Thomas-Alexandre proposed to join the army, his father only agreed on condition that he did not use the de la Pailleterie name.

Thomas-Alexandre Dumas' courage and strength was a legend, and by 1793 he was a general at 31. Following a successful campaign with Napoleon in Egypt, Dumas seemed set for a brilliant future - but, involved in a republican plot, he was despatched to France, captured during the journey and imprisoned. Freed after 20 months he was lame, deaf in one ear, partly paralysed and penniless. At the age of 35 he had to retire to Villers-Cotterêts, a quiet village near Paris where he had married Marie-Louise Elizabeth Labouret in 1792.

Alexandre was born on 24 July 1802. His mother was in raptures because of his fair skin and blue eyes. A few days before she had seen a puppet show with a black devil called Berlick, and she had been terrified at the prospect of giving birth to a Berlick.

The boy adored his father, who died in 1806. Told that his father been taken away by God, the four-year-old Dumas angrily declared his intention of going up to heaven and demanding satisfaction. In adult life he was to fictionalise many of his father's real-life exploits in his famous novel The Three Musketeers .

Guest-curated for the British Library by Mike Phillips

Early life Next - 'Early life'

Introduction Introduction
Alexander Pushkin Alexander Pushkin
Alexandre Dumas
George Polgreen Bridgetower George Polgreen Bridgetower
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor John Archer
 
 
 
Discover more:
Introduction
Introduction
Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Pushkin
Alexandre Dumas
The father - General Dumas
Early life
Early life
Arrival in Paris
Arrival in Paris
Dumas the dramatist - "glass beads and corals
Dumas the dramatist - "glass beads and corals"
Time of transition
Time of transition
A new career - the novelist
A new career - the novelist
Mulatto!
Mulatto!
The forgotten man
The forgotten man
The giant falls
The giant falls
George Polgreen Bridgetower
George Polgreen Bridgetower
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
John Archer
John Archer
 
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