On this day, 23-year-old Alexandre Dumas fights his first duel. He sustains no serious injury, although his pants fall down in the fight. He'll later fill his romantic works, including The Three Musketeers, with duels, battles, and daring escapades.
Dumas was the son of one of Napoleon's generals, but his family struggled financially after his father's death in 1806. Dumas went to Paris to find work and was hired by the household of the Duke D'Orleans, who became King Louis-Philippe. Dumas began writing plays, which became huge hits with the public, then turned to historical novels. He published The Three Musketeers in 1844, followed by The Count of Monte Cristo in 1845.
Dumas led a tempestuous life filled with ruinous love affairs. His illegitimate son also became a writer-the two were later known as Dumas pere (French for "father") and Dumas fils (French for "son"). The son reacted against his father's lifestyle by writing highly regarded contemporary dramas supporting marriage and family, with titles like "The Natural Son" (1848) and "The Prodigal Father" (1859) . Dumas pere died in 1870. Five years later, his son was admitted to the elite Academie Francaise. Dumas fils died in 1895.