Alexandre Dumas's novels are notable for their suspense and
excitement, their foul deeds, hairsbreadth escapes, and glorious
victories. In The Black Tulip (1850), the shortest of Dumas's most
famous tales, the real hero is no Musketeer, but a flower. The
novel - a deceptively simple story - is set in Holland in 1672, and
weaves the historical events surrounding the brutal murder of John
de Witte and his brother Cornelius into a tale of romantic love.
The novel is also a timeless political allegory in which Dumas,
drawing on the violence and crimes of history, makes his case
against tyranny and puts all his energies into creating a symbol of
justice and tolerance: the fateful tulipa negra. This new edition
reprints the first, classic English translation. David Coward sets
the novel in the context of its author's life, the turbulent
history of the Dutch Republic, and the amazing `tulipmania' of the
seventeenth century which brought wealth to some and ruin to many.