The Man in the Iron Mask (French: L'Homme au Masque de Fer) is a name given to a prisoner arrested as Eustache Dauger in 1669 or 1670, and held in a number of jails, including the Bastille and the Fortress of Pignerol (today Pinerolo). He was held in the custody of the same jailer, Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars, for a period of 34 years. He died on 19 November 1703 under the name of Marchioly, during the reign of Louis XIV of France (1643–1715). The possible identity of this man has been thoroughly discussed and has been the subject of many books, because no one ever saw his face, which was hidden by a mask of black velvet cloth.
In 1850, Alexandre Dumas elaborated on the theme in the final installment of his Three Musketeers saga, The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later. It is the third and last of the d'Artagnan Romances, following The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After. It appeared first in serial form between 1847 and 1850. In the English translations the 268 chapters of this large volume are usually subdivided into three, but sometimes four or even five individual books. In this four-volume edition the volume names are entitled: "The Vicomte de Bragelonne", "Ten Years Later", "Louise de la Vallière", and "The Man in the Iron Mask" (this volume). Each volume is roughly the length of the original The Three Musketeers.
The d'Artagnan Romances are a set of three novels by Alexandre Dumas telling the story of the musketeer d'Artagnan from his humble beginnings in Gascony to his death as a marshal of France in the Siege of Maastricht in 1673.
The three novels are:
The Three Musketeers, set in 1625; first published in 1844. Dumas claimed it was based on manuscripts he had discovered in the Bibliothèque Nationale.
Twenty Years After, set in 1648; serialized from January to August, 1845.
The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later, set between 1660 and 1673; serialized from October 1847 to January 1850. This vast novel has been split into four volumes; The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Ten Years Later, Louise de la Vallière and The Man in the Iron Mask.
Alexandre Dumas, (1802-1870), also known as Alexandre Dumas, père, was a French writer, best known for his historical novels of high adventure. Translated into nearly 100 languages, these have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world. Many of his novels, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later were originally published as serials. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas' last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by a scholar and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier.
Prolific in several genres, Dumas began his career by writing plays, which were successfully produced from the first. He also wrote numerous magazine articles and travel books; his published works totaled 100,000 pages. In the 1840s, Dumas founded the Théâtre Historique in Paris.