French mystery novelist, playwright, journalist, and a prolific feuilletonist. Leroux is best known for his Le Fantôme de l'opéra (1910, The Phantom of the Opera), in which a criminally insane recluse haunts a Paris opera house, and abducts a young and beautiful singer to his cellar retreat. The novel has been a source for several films and stage adaptations, including Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version, first produced in 1987.
"The Opera ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed, a creature of the imagination of the artists, the superstition of the managers, or a product of the absurd and impressionable brains of the young ladies of the ballet, their mothers, the box-keepers, the cloak-room attendants or the concierge. Yes, he existed in flesh and blood, although he assumed the complete appearance of a real phantom; that is to say, of a spectral shade." (from The Phantom of the Opera) Gaston Leroux was born in Paris, the son of a wealthy storeowner. He attended school in Normandy and studied law in Paris, receiving his degree in 1889. After inheriting nearly a million francs, he spent most of his time drinking and gambling. Finding his money gone, Leroux started to work as a theater critic and reporter for L'Écho de Paris. By 1890 Leroux had become a full-time journalist. Between the years 1894 and 1906 he travelled in different countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia as a correspondent. Leroux wrote for the daily newspaper Le Matin and L'echo de Paris and reported amongst other things about the Russian Revolution of 1905. From 1909 Leroux devoted himself entirely to writing, focusing on plays and popular novels of mystery and detection. In 919 Leroux established his own film company called Cinéromans. Leroux died in Nice on April 15/16, 1927, as a result of an acute urinary infection.
Although The Phantom of the Opera is a version of the classic tale 'Beauty and the Beast', the fatal obsession is now music. "Erik was born in a small town not far from Rouen. He was the son of a master mason. He ran away at an early age from his father's house, where his ugliness was a subject of horror and terror to his parents." After years of wandering, Erik hides himself in the corridors and underground locales of the Paris Opera House. He has helped in the reconstruction of its cellars, and incorporated many trapdoors in the building. He falls in love with a young singer, Christiane Daaé, and arranges a series of deaths to advance her career. Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, is also in love with Christine, but she is forbidden by Erik to respond to his advances. When the Opera managers refuse to make her a star, the unmasking of Erik's evil side leads to his destruction. "'Know,' he shouted, while his throat throbbed and panted like furnace, 'know that I am built up of death from head to foot and that this is a corpse that loves you and adores you and will never, never leave you!..."