The Real Camille. The character of Marguerite Gautier is based on Marie Duplessis (1824-1847). She was a French courtesan and mistress to a number of prominent and wealthy men. She is the basis of the main character of La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas the younger, one of Duplessis' lovers. Much of what is known about her has been mixed with the literary character and contemporary legends.