Cornelius van Baerle, a respectable tulip-grower, lives only to cultivate the elusive black tulip and win a magnificent prize for its creation. But after his powerful godfather is assassinated, the unwitting Cornelius becomes caught up in a deadly political intrigue and is falsely accused of high treason by a bitter rival. Condemned to life imprisonment, his only comfort is Rosa, the jailer's beautiful daughter, and together they concoct a plan to grow the black tulip in secret. Dumas's last major historical novel is a tale of romantic love, jealousy and obsession, interweaving historical events surrounding the brutal murders of two Dutch statesmen in 1672 with the phenomenon of tulipomania that gripped seventeenth-century Holland.
This new translation follows the unabridged edition of 1865 and includes a chronology and list of further reading. In his introduction, Robin Buss discusses Dumas's use of elements from the history of the Dutch Republic, tulipomania and the paintings of the period, and places the novel in the context of Dumas's life and career.