The Phantom of the Opera (in French, Le Fantome de l'Opera) is a French novel by Gaston Leroux. It was first published as a serialization in Le Gaulois from September 23, 1909 to January 8, 1910. Some believe it to have been inspired by George du Maurier's Trilby. Trilby is based on real events related to the Paris Opera House which Leroux investigated, initiated by stories of an opera house ghost. Initially, the novel sold very poorly and was even out of print several times during the twentieth century. Today, it is considered to be a classic of French literature, though it is overshadowed by its many subsequent adaptations. The novel was translated into English in 1911. It has since been adapted many times into film and stage productions, the most notable of which were the 1925 film depiction and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical, starring Michael Crawford as the Phantom, Steve Barton as Raoul, and Sarah Brightman as Christine, which is now the longest running Broadway show in history and the most lucrative entertainment enterprise of all time, its worldwide box office over the past 20 years out-grossing even the highest grossing film in history, Titanic.
-- Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.