Arsene Lupin is a fictional gentleman thief and master of disguise created in 1905 by French writer Maurice Leblanc. He was originally called Arsene Lupin, until a local politician of the same name protested. The character was first introduced in a series of short stories serialized in the magazine Je sais tout. The first story, “The Arrest of Arsene Lupin”, was published on 15 July 1905.
Lupin was featured in 17 novels and 39 novellas by Leblanc, with the novellas or short stories collected into book form for a total of 24 books. The number becomes 25 if the 1923 novel The Secret Tomb is counted: Lupin doesn’t appear in it, but the main character Dorothée solves one of Arsene Lupin ‘s four fabulous secrets.
The character has also appeared in a number of books from other writers as well as numerous film, television, stage play, and comic book adaptations. Five authorized sequels were written in the 1970s by the celebrated mystery writing team of Boileau-Narcejac.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maurice Marie Émile Leblanc (11 November 1864 – 6 November 1941) was a French novelist and writer of short stories, known primarily as the creator of the fictional gentleman thief and detective Arsene Lupin, often described as a French counterpart to Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation “Sherlock Holmes.”
Leblanc was largely considered little more than a writer of short stories for various French periodicals until the first Arsene Lupin story appeared in a series of short stories that was serialized in the magazine Je sais tout, starting in No. 6, dated 15 July 1905. Clearly created at editorial request under the influence of and in reaction to the wildly successful Sherlock Holmes stories, the roguish and glamorous Lupin was a surprise success and Leblanc’s fame and fortune beckoned. In total, Leblanc went on to write 21 Lupin novels or collections of short stories.
The character of Lupin might have been based by Leblanc on French anarchist Marius Jacob, whose trial made headlines in March 1905. It is also possible that Leblanc had also read Octave Mirbeau’s Les 21 jours d’un neurasthénique (1901), which features a gentleman thief named Arthur Lebeau, and he had seen Mirbeau’s comedy Scrupules (1902), whose main character is a gentleman thief.