Gaston Leroux  

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"[ Edgar Wallace ] began writing in 1905, at the height of the period of uncertainty that also influenced the works of Feuillade and Gaston Leroux." --Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies 1956-1984, p. 13

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Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux (May 6, 1868, ParisApril 15, 1927, Nice) was a French journalist, detective, and novelist. In the English-speaking world, he is best known for writing the novel The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, 1910), which has been made into several film and stage productions of the same name, such as the 1925 film starring Lon Chaney. Gaston Leroux, so impressed French filmmaker Jean Rollin that he wrote a long article- in fact, a full length study of his work- in Losfeld's film magazine, "Midi-Minuit Fantastique".


Leroux went to school in Normandy and studied law in Paris, graduating in 1889. He inherited millions of francs and lived wildly until he nearly reached bankruptcy. Then in 1890, he began working as a court reporter and theater critic for L'Echo de Paris. His most important journalism came when he began working as an international correspondent for the Paris newspaper Le Matin. In 1905 he was present at and covered the Russian Revolution. Another case he was present at involved the investigation and deep coverage of an opera house in Paris, later to become a ballet house. The basement consisted of a cell that held prisoners in Paris Commune, which was the government during the French Revolution.

He suddenly left journalism in 1907, and began writing fiction; in 1909, he made his own film company, Cinéromans. He first wrote a mystery novel entitled Le mystère de la chambre jaune (1908; The Mystery of the Yellow Room), starring the amateur detective Joseph Rouletabille. The Mystery of the Yellow Room is considered an important work in the history of detective fiction due to its being the first "locked-room puzzle," which has become a staple in the genre. Leroux's contribution to French detective fiction is considered a parallel to Edgar Allan Poe's in America and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's in the United Kingdom.

Leroux died in Nice on April 15, 1927, of a urinary tract infection.

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