The story takes place in France, Italy, islands in the Mediterranean, and in the Levant during the historical events of 1815–1838. An adventure story primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy and forgiveness, it focuses on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. However, his plans have devastating consequences for the innocent as well as the guilty.
Alexandre Dumas was born in 1802, the son of a general in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. His mother, widowed young, ran a tobacco shop to eke out a living.
Even as a child, Alexandre Dumas knew that he was different from the other boys in the small town of Villiers-Cotterets. For Alexandre was half-black and half-white. And nobody ever let him forget that.
Education bored young Alexandre, and as he grew older, he preferred spending his time hunting and leading an outdoor life. But when Alexandre turned sixteen, his whole life changed. He saw his first play—a performance of Shakespeare's Hamlet—and from that moment on, his dream was to go to Paris and become a playwright.
Dumas worked for years as a clerk and wrote in his spare time. His plays and travel books met with success. But it wasn't until 1844 that Alexandre Dumas hit upon the one kind of story that was to make him rich and famous—the historical novel.
In his many historical novels, Dumas portrayed people who really existed in French history and events that had actually happened. He added main characters from his own imagination and wove entertaining and amusing adventure stories around them.
In the year 1844, Dumas published The Three Musketeers—the adventures of d'Artagnan and his three crazy companions—and became famous overnight. This was soon followed by The Count of Monte Cristo which caused another sensation in literary circles. The figure of Dantes in this novel gripped the imagination of the public and Dumas found himself one of the busiest authors in Europe. He wrote many books subsequently, including The Man in the Iron Mask, but somehow that could not achieve the success of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. In fact, the man who enriched the world with all his books, died in 1870, at his son's house in France, penniless and a total wreck!
Although Dumas died a sad man, the heroes of his two famous novels live on, as popular as ever the world over.