A monogamous relationship with a woman, was something that was totally alien to Alexandre Dumas, as he put it succinctly himself, “If I had only one, she’d be dead inside eight days.” This incorrigible playboy right from his teens until his death, didn’t want to get married and only did so when forced into it, to pay off some of his debts. This did not change his penchant for taking on any number of mistresses and in so doing fathering seven illegitimate children. It is no real surprise that this inveterate bed hopper died of syphilis.
Lord Byron was another serial bed hopper, famous for his bisexuality. Married to , Anne Isabella Milbanke, he also allegedly was getting a bit of extra-marital with her half-sister Augusta Leigh. Lord Byron’s antics were too much for Lady Byron, who left her husband, taking their child with her. Rumors of the man dubbed as “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know” got so intense he was forced to leave England and never ventured back. Lord Byron, the patron saint of the Romantics certainly lacked in moral fiber, an affair with Mary Shelley’s sister, Claire Clairmont, resulted in a child he refused to acknowledge or pay for. His Lordship would get through hundreds of women each year.
It is not only men writers who have a strong appetite to sample different sexual partners, take Anaïs Nin, married aged 20 this proved no stumbling block to her rampant sex life, including a passionate love affair with Henry Miller, living with him in Paris in the 1930s. When she reached the age of 44, she had two marriages on the go, one to Rupert Pole, a man aged 28 much younger than her, while still “married” to Hugh Parker Guiler her “first husband”. Simone de Beauvoir declined to marry her boyfriend, Jean Paul Sartre, but the two shared a fruitful and revolutionary lifelong relationship, interspersed with affairs, both being quite open about them, even sharing some of them. De Beuvoir had a penchant for young students, one such dalliance with a Nathalie Sorokine led to her having teaching license revoked.
Charles Dickens was allegedly a virgin when he married Catherine Hogarth, aged 24. The marriage was not well destined as almost immediately became obsessed with her younger sister, Mary, who sadly died not long into their marriage, so poor Catherine was left to compete with a “ghost”. The marriage staggered on culminating in ten children, until Dicken’s fell for a young actress, Nelly Ternan. Tired of his wife Dickens had an affair with the actress, which he kept under wraps for fear of scandal.
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