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The forgotten man

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Portrait of Victor Hugo   Portrait of Giuseppe Garibaldi
Alexandre Dumas' son (also Alexandre, 1824-95)
British Library P.P.1931.peg
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  Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882)
British Library 10604.h.1
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As the second half of the century began Dumas was in trouble. The Théâtre Historique failed. His creditors began to circle like a pack of wolves. Next was the turn of Monte Cristo. The bailiffs stripped it and soon nothing was left – not even his vulture Jugurtha, who went to an innkeeper who was owed 3,000 francs. At the end of 1851 imperial order was resumed in France. The republican Victor Hugo was exiled, and Dumas absented himself in Brussels. After three years he returned to Paris and, irrepressible as always, started a new journal, Le Mousquetaire. As usual with Dumas' ventures the journal was a great success at first, but it made little money. In the following years attacks in the journals and the courts increased in frequency. “Old Negro” became a habitual term of abuse.

After 1857, however, his popularity suddenly returned and his plays were once more in favour. He set out to join Garibaldi, leader of the movement to unify Italy (risorgimento), who was about to invade Naples and Sicily to make them part of the new Italian union. Dumas spent his fortune on weapons, and entered Naples in triumph among Garibaldi's red-shirted soldiers. Garibaldi appointed him director of Fine Arts, but his status didn't last long. The Neapolitans were resentful of the foreigner in their midst and he was soon on his way back to France.

His bohemian life began again on a smaller scale, but he was surrounded by sycophants who fleeced him for all they could get. They alienated his son Alexandre, whose glittering career as a playwright and novelist was just beginning. In comparison Dumas was now a forgotten man.

Guest-curated for the British Library by Mike Phillips

The giant falls Next - 'The giant falls'

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
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 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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