Alexandre Dumas had so many ideas! But he didn’t have time to do all that bothersome research, all that cumbersome writing. So he set up a kind of factory system to get it all done in one lifetime. His grandmother had been a slave in Haiti. That meant her children with the French nobleman who did not marry her were slaves from the moment they were born. One of her children was Alexandre’s father; he was taken to France by his noble father and freed when he was 10. He became a general in the French army, but when Alexandre was four, he died of cancer.
Alexandre loved to read and in his twenties, he got a prestigious job in Paris. Soon, he started a newspaper. When he wrote his first book, about famous crimes, it was a collaborative effort with friends. Then he and his fencing teacher wrote a book about fencing. Alexandre was on his way! He set up a system – lots of writers producing hundreds of articles and other works, always with Alexandre Dumas having the final approval.
When Dumas met Auguste Maquet, it was a deal made in writers’ heaven. Maquet, a professor and an expert in French history, did a heck of a lot of work – from suggesting plots to actually writing first drafts. This included the wildly popular The Three Musketeers, with its romantic hero, d’Artagnan — based on the life of Charles de Batz-Castelmore d’Artagnan – first appearing in serialized form in a newspaper in 1844. All under the name of Alexandre Dumas, not Auguste Maquet.
Dumas, who was now earning a fortune, always managed to spend more than he made (a lot of it on at least 40 mistresses). Maquet wanted more money, plus his name as co-author. Dumas’s response? “Sue me.” Maquet did. He got more money but that was all. No credit for his work, no name on the title page. Maquet’s huge contribution to Dumas’ work wasn’t really understood until the 20th century. Dumas really believed in d’Artagnan’s motto – “One for all and all for one.” As long as the one was Alexandre Dumas.