French journalist and fiction writer Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux (1868 -1927) is best known for writing the novel ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (Le Fantôme de l’Opéra), first published in 1909.
As a journalist, he was involved in an investigation into the Paris Opera House, whose basement contained a prison cell.
He also looked into the rumour that, not long after the opera house had opened, a fire in the roof of the building melted through a wire which caused a chandelier to crash to the floor, leaving several injured and one dead during the first act of the opera Helle .
Another of his articles described the 1896 events surrounding the death of a visitor to the Opera House when one of the chandeliers fell.
All this provided material for the great novel to come, which did not in fact become popular until the early twenties when it was made into a silent film version with Lon Chaney in the lead.