Authors: Émile Gaboriau

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

French novelist

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Les Cotillons célèbres, 1860

Les Comédiennes adorées, 1861

Les Mariages d’aventure, 1862 (Marriage at a Venture, 1879)

Les Gens de bureau, 1862 (The Men of the Bureau, 1880)

L’Affaire Lerouge, 1863 (serial), 1866 (book

The Widow Lerouge, 1873)

Le Crime d’Orcival, 1867 (The Mystery of Orcival, 1871)

Le Dossier no. 113, 1867 (File No. 113, 1875)

Les Esclaves de Paris, 1868 (The Slaves of Paris, 1879)

Monsieur Lecoq, 1869 (English translation, 1879)

La Vie infernale, 1870 (The Count’s Secret, 1881)

La Clique dorée, 1871 (The Clique of Gold, 1874)

La Corde au cou, 1871 (Within an Inch of His Life, 1873; also known as In Peril of His Life and In Deadly Peril)

La Dégringolade, 1872 (The Downward Path, 1880)

L’Argent des autres, 1874 (Other People’s Money, 1874)

La Capitaine Coutanceau, 1875 (Captain Coutanceau, 1880)

Le Petit Vieux des Batignolles, 1876 (The Little Old Man of Batignolles, 1880; also known as A Thousand Francs Reward and A Beautiful Scourge)

Les Amours d’empoisonneuse, 1881 (The Marquise de Brinvilliers, 1886)

Written in Cipher, 1894

Short Fiction:

Ruses d’amour, 1862


L’Honneur du nom, pr. 1869 (with others)

L’Affaire Lerouge, pr. 1872 (with Hippolyte Hostein; adaptation of his novel)


L’Ancien Figaro: Études satiriques, 1861

Le Treizième Hussards, 1861 (The Thirteenth Hussars, 1880)


After an uneventful childhood and a brief period of service in the cavalry, Émile Gaboriau (gah-bawr-yoh) arrived in Paris around 1856, where he eventually began to write sensational serial stories for the daily newspapers. Since he specialized in romances of crime, he spent much time in police courts and morgues searching for material. Turning to the novel, Gaboriau soon produced the popular The Widow Lerouge, which shows the influence of Edgar Allan Poe and in which the detection of crime is an important theme; this work has the distinction of being called the world’s first true detective novel. There followed in quick succession fourteen novels, of which four can be classified as detective fiction. His life was brief; he died in Paris on September 28, 1873, probably of a heart attack.{$I[AN]9810000213}{$I[A]Gaboriau, Émile}{$I[geo]FRANCE;Gaboriau, Émile}{$I[tim]1832;Gaboriau, Émile}

Many of Gaboriau’s novels were soon translated into English, first in the United States and then in England. Devotees of detective fiction point out the influence of Gaboriau’s novels on the subsequent development of the genre. His Monsieur Lecoq in many ways is the prototype of many a later ingenious detective, especially Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. In Gaboriau’s novels, the solution of the mystery, although often skillfully worked out, is usually not the climax of the story. Melodramatic family scandal is basic to most of his works. Gaboriau’s novels are sensational, discursive, and verbose; yet, without a doubt, they are significant contributions to a popular literary type.

BibliographyBell, A. Craig. “The Rise and Fall of the Detective Novel.” Contemporary Review 272 (April, 1998): 196-200. Traces the development of the detective genre, giving brief mention to Gaboriau.Bonniot, Roger. Émile Gaboriau: Ou, La Naissance du roman policier. Paris: J. Vrin, 1985. A meticulous critical biography in French.Murch, A. E. The Development of the Detective Novel. 1958. Reprint. New York: Philosophical Library, 1968. Gaboriau’s importance as the father of the detective novel is discussed; considers Gaboriau’s police-officer hero as well as his plot structure and themes.Panek, LeRoy Lad. An Introduction to the Detective Story. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1987. This history of the detective story and how it developed contains a chapter on Gaboriau.Roth, Marty. Foul and Fair Play: Reading Genre in Classic Detective Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995. A poststructural analysis of the conventions of mystery and detective fiction. Examines 138 short stories and works from the 1840’s to the 1960’s. Helps place Gaboriau within the context of the genre.Sayers, Dorothy L. Les Origines du Roman Policier: A Wartime Wireless Talk to the French. Translated by Suzanne Bray. Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, England: Dorothy L. Sayers Society, 2003. Address to the French by the famous English mystery author, discussing the history of French detective fiction and its relation to the English version of the genre. Provides perspective for understanding Gaboriau.Scaggs, John. Crime Fiction. New York: Routledge, 2005. Contains discussion of Gaboriau’s novels.Symons, Julian. Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel–A History. 3d ed. New York: Mysterious Press, 1993. Provides a lucid presentation of Gaboriau’s many contributions to the genre and of his influence on future practitioners.
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