July 24, 1802: Alexandre Dumas is born.

This prolific French author of, most famously, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, was born in Villers-Cotterêts in Aisne, France, to Marie Louise Labouret and General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, France’s first black general. On his father’s side, Dumas was of both white French and black/Afro-Caribbean ancestry - his grandmother was a slave from Santo Domingo. 

Dumas began his career after the Bourbon Restoration, whereupon he moved to Paris and secured a job under Louis Philippe, future and final king of France. During this time, he published his first plays - Henry III and His Courts (1829) and Christine, both sweeping pieces of Romantic drama; both were also commercial successes and together, allowed him to take up a career as a full-time writer and spend extravagantly. Much of his work falls into the realm of Romanticism and historical fiction (such as his most famous novels), but Dumas was endlessly productive and worked in many different genres throughout his career; of all French authors Dumas is considered one of the most widely-read, having written dozens of novels, several dramas, and non-fiction works ranging from history books to journal articles to culinary encyclopedias.

Despite his success as an author and aristocratic background, Dumas was not immune to racial discrimination. He rarely wrote on the subject, but his 1843 novel Georges, set on the island of Mauritius, centered on racial conflict and featured a light-skinned mixed-race protagonist. To one man who targeted his African ancestry as a personal attack, Dumas made the famous retort:

My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends.

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    He was indeed. Handsome.
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    Also, damn he was a handsome man.
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