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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 Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera almost certainly qualifies as a candidate for the title of the least-read novel whose story is best-known. Thanks to a never-ending supply of adaptations into other media, it would be almost impossible to...