Gaston Leroux
Phantom of the Opera

"While he had been telling me the story I noticed him continually rubbing the glass of the eyeglasses he had found on the side table. From the evident pleasure he was taking in handling them I felt they must be one of those sensible evidences destined to enter what he had called the circle of the right end of his reason. That strange and unique way of his, to express himself in terms wonderfully adequate for his thoughts, no longer surprised me. It was often necessary to know his thought to understand the terms he used; and it was not easy to penetrate into Rouletabille's thinking." (La Mystere de la Chambre Jaune)

Gaston Leroux, born on 6th May 1868, and trained as a lawyer on his father's instruction. He dreamed of becoming a writer however and, influenced by Dumas, Poe and Hugo. Leroux's life was eventful to say the least. When his father died leaving a considerable inheritance, Leroux managed to dispose of the whole sum in less than a year. He himself was a roving reporter and spend much time abroad in locations such as Sweden, Finland, Morocco, Egypt and even Korea. He wrote four novels and then decided to try to better Conan Doyle and Poe with his own mystery stories. So, Leroux became the author of a number of extremely popular detective novels, the most prominent of which were La Mystere de la Chambre Jaune ("The Mystery of the Yellow Room", 1907) and Le Parfum de la Dame en Noir. Their central and enduring character was the amateur detective known as Rouletabille for his bullet-shaped head. This man, Joseph Raul, is by trade a journalist and crime-reporter. Though still a young man he manages to use his powers of reasoning to solve mysteries while the police remain baffled - much in the vein of English authors G K Chesterton's Father Brown and, later, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple.

By 1909, Leroux was famous and successful enough to resign from journalism and spend all of his time writing. La Double Vie de Theophraste Longuet and La Reine du Sabbat are two of the author's famous horror stories produced during this period though he is now perhaps best known worldwide for his creation of the famous eponymous hero in The Phantom of the Opera (1910) that has been staged and filmed a number of times and remains a popular musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Leroux achieved a reasonable level of fame himself towards the end of his life, and he resided at his beautiful and final home, the "Palace of the North Star". He suffered, however, from illness on account of his obesity. On April 15, 1927 and at the age of 59 he died of an acute urinary infection.

The Phantom of the Opera A complete website dedicated on the Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

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