Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Dumas mss., 1877-1890, consist of letters and telegrams, all in French, from Alexandre Dumas, 1824-1895, novelist and playwright, to the Princess Elise Soutzo, 1857?- 1937. The correspondence reveals the romance which existed between the young princess and the mature and worldly Dumas. The beautiful eighteen-year-old daughter of the Roumanian aristocracy first met the literary lion of Paris in 1875. The Soutzo family, related to the Khika's and Caradja's, were prominent in Roumanian social circles. They had been actual rulers when Roumania was Turkish. Through Collete Dumas, eldest daughter of Dumas, the pretty, witty, and young princess met the playwright and was a constant visitor at his home. Up to 1883 their relations were regarded as admirer and admired, but after that date their intimacies became the talk of Paris. Madame Dumas, the former Russian Princess Nadejda Naryschkine, closed her eyes to the affair and continued to accept the princess to her salon. The novelist's ego was flattered because he was Elise's first love. He repeatedly said "You tell me that I am your first love--I tell you that you are my last." When Madame Dumas died, however, he married the young daughter of the actor Regnier. All relations with the Princess Elise ceased and the name Dumas could not be mentioned in her presence. Many of her letters were destroyed.

Included are also two photographs of Dumas and a scrapbook. Lacks letter number 275, that cover being empty when received. This collection was number 282 in the Parke- Bernet Galleries, Inc., catalogue of the sale of the collections of Mrs. B.H. Homan, Sr., A.C. Gissing, Patrice Hennesy, and other owners, December 5, 1949.

Collection size: 307 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.