Gaston Leroux Author Biography Essay

Leroux was a French novelist who wrote in the Gothic style—a type of prose that gave primacy to the irrational and inexplicable, and a reaction to the calculated, progressive, and scientific aura of Victorian-era literature. He is best known for his 1910 work, The Phantom of the Opera, which gained more fame decades later through various film renditions, and most notably through Andrew Lloyd Webber's theatrical version (that in 2005 became the longest-running Broadway show in history).

After completing his education, Leroux worked as a clerk in a law office and wrote essays and short stories in his free time. By 1890 he had become a full-time journalist, and from 1894 to 1906 he sailed the world as a correspondent, reporting back to Paris various adventures in which he took part (notably during the Russian Revolution of 1905). In the early 1900s he began writing novels. In 1910, The Phantom of the Opera appeared serially, before publication as a novel; it received only moderate sales and somewhat poor reviews. Leroux published several other novels and a few plays, but he never achieved wide fame as a writer of horror and crime stories—except among mystery aficionados.

Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux (1868 -1927) was a French journalist and author of detective stories.

He is known to English readers as the author of The Phantom of the Opera(Le Fantôme de l'Opéra) (1911).

Leroux's novel, The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1908) is considered the premier "locked room mystery" of all time, in which the criminal disappears from a locked room, and the reader is pressed to solve the mystery by reviewing precise diagrams, floorplans and minute details provided by Leroux. Agatha Christie admired Leroux's work, particularly his ability to engage readers' intellect and challenge them to solve seemingly unsolvable crimes.

Leroux was born in Paris in 1868, studied law, inherited millions of francs and spent all his money until nearly bankrupt by 1890. He became a court reporter and theater critic, then an international correspondent who covered the 1905 Russian Revolution. He investigated the former Paris Opera, which later housed the Paris Ballet, where prisoners of the Paris Commune were held in its basement. No doubt, inspiration for the setting of his most famous work. He left journalism and formed his own film company in 1919, where he adapted much of his work into film. Leroux's crime novels are considered the French equivalent of works by England's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and America's Edgar Allan Poe.

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