on_l_top.gif (10335 bytes)

on_r_top.gif (10527 bytes)

Alexandre Dumas fils

Haworth's Life
Haworth's Times
Haworth's Versatility
Haworth's Press
Haworth's Writings
NY Engagements
His Brother William
The Haworth Tradition

Home Contact Site Map

Alexandre Dumas fils

"Business? It's very simple. It's other people's money." Alexandre Dumas fils

Alexandre, Dumas fils (1824-1895) One of the leading French playwrights and novelists of the last quarter of the 19th Century. He was born in Paris on July 27th, the illegitimate son of dressmaker Marie-Catherine Labay. His father was Alexandre Dumas, one of the most famous French writers of the 19th century, who was himself an illegitimate child. In 1831, Dumas fils was legally recognized by his father and taken from his mother, who at first tried to escape with her son. Marie-Catherine became the basis for many of the mother characters in Dumas’ writings, which often depicted the tragic fate of unmarried women. His father saw to it that he had the best education possible at the Institution Goubaux and the College Bourbon. In addition to the stigma of illegitimacy, he was also part black. His father was the mulatto son of a white French nobleman and a black Haitian girl. Young Dumas was taunted miserably by his schoolmates over these issues and this profoundly affected his thinking, behavior and writing. In 1844, Dumas fils moved to Saint-Germain-en-Laye to live with his father. There he met 20 year old Marie Duplessis, who as a teenager had been the mistress of several important men in Parisian society. She became Dumas’ lover and her tragic early death from tuberculosis inspired his 1848 novel La Dame aux Camelias. He later adapted his work into a play and after being rejected three times by the censors, it was finally presented in 1852. It became a huge success and helped him to pay off his debts and to assist his mother. It was a vehicle for many famous actresses including Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse & Helena Modjeska. Known in English as Camille, it was the basis of Verdi’s La Traviata. His second and third plays Diana de Lys and Le Demi-monde (The Crust of Society) deal similarly with clever but socially discredited women trying to reestablish themselves in respectable society. Some critics consider Le Demi-monde the definitive model of 19th Century comedy. During his lifetime Dumas fils wrote 13 novels and many plays including Denis (1885) and Francillon (1887). In 1874 he was admitted to the Academie Francaise and in 1894 he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur. Alexandre Dumas fils died at Marly-le-Roi on November 27, 1895.

(click on photo to enlarge)

Alexandre Dumas fils-sketch-B&W-Resized.jpg (34930 bytes) Alexandre_Dumas_fils_sitting_in_chair-illustration-BW-Resized.jpg (37081 bytes) Alexandre Dumas fils headshot 1864-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (49943 bytes)

Sketch as young man


 in 1864

Alexandre Dumas fils (1824-1895) Carte de Visite Photograph-cepia-Resized.jpg (33512 bytes)

Marie_Duplessis-cameo Portrait 1847.jpg (31537 bytes)

Alexandre_Dumas_fils_as_an_old_man-Photo-BW-Resized.jpg (46019 bytes)

Carte de Visite

Marie Duplessis the original of "La Dame aux Camelias"

as older man

Joseph Haworth & Alexandre Dumas fils

Joseph Haworth acted in all three of Dumas fils major plays on the New York stage, beginning with Denise in March 1885. Sensationally produced in Paris just weeks before, Denise dealt with Dumas’ familiar theme of a woman’s damaged reputation and moral society’s hypocritical response to her. It starred Clara Morris and was produced at Daly’s Theatre, under the personal direction of Augustin Daly.

At the Union Square Theatre in December 1892, Joe played "Oliver St. Aubyn" in The Crust of Society. It was the first American production of Dumas’ Le Demi-Monde. Joe’s character faced the moral dilemma of seeing his best friend betrothed to an ex-prostitute and former lover. He was praised for his handling of a complex and not entirely sympathetic role.

Le Demi-Monde’s companion piece was Dumas’ Camille, in which Joe played "Armand Duval" with Modjeska at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in 1898. Joe excelled as the idealistic young lover of a French courtesan, although he was forty-three years old when he took on the role. Joe loved Modjeska in this part, calling her "the greatest English speaking exponent" of the character.

Top of page

right_cur.gif (3918 bytes)
on_l_bot.gif (3672 bytes)

Home Next

on_r_bot.gif (3629 bytes)