October 9 in Literature: The Phantom of the Opera Premieres

The most significant events in the history of books on the 9th of October

1906: Léopold Sédar Senghor is born. A Senegalese poet, he would become the first president of that country in 1960.

1938: John Sutherland is born. A retired Professor of English Literature, he has published extensively on Victorian fiction in particular, and is the author of Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives, a monumental and hugely entertaining book we’d heartily recommend. He is also the author of The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction, an invaluable and informative resource which every fan of Victorian literature cannot afford to be without. It contains information about famous and forgotten Victorian novelists and the books they wrote – everyone from Marie Corelli to Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charles Dickens to Charles Lever.

1986: The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical The Phantom of the Opera premieres at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. Jacques DerridaIt was based on a book by Gaston Leroux, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, published in serial form in 1909-10. That novel’s plot was itself partly inspired by the George du Maurier novel Trilby, one of the Victorian publishing sensations.

2004: Jacques Derrida dies. The French-Algerian-born philosopher was the founder of deconstruction, which questioned many of the widely held views of early twentieth-century philosophy and literary theory, particularly structuralism. Put simply, deconstruction is all about uncertainty, doubt, gaps, slippage, rather than rigid certainties. It was developed by Derrida in a series of books in the late 1960s and hit English Literature university departments in the 1970s, where it became the driving force for much of the remainder of the century.

And finally… As it’s World Post Day today, here are some of our favourite quotations from writers about the world of letters, mail, and post:

A person who can write a long letter with ease, cannot write ill. – Jane Austen

To speak critically, I never received more than one or two letters in my life … that were worth the postage. – Henry David Thoreau

Every author really wants to have letters printed in the papers. Unable to make the grade, he drops down a rung of the ladder and writes novels. – P. G. Wodehouse

The letter I wrote to The Author about not getting published was never published, which seems to be the final accolade of failure. – Barbara Pym, letter to Philip Larkin

Image: Chinmoy Guha with Jacques Derrida (author: Chinmoy Guha), Wikimedia Commons.


  1. It’s rather sad, I suppose that hardly anyone wrtrites letters any more.

  2. Fascinating. I always suspected that Phantom of the Opera had a link to Trilby!

  3. Fascinating! I have a Victorian heart (and writer’s soul) within me, no doubt about it. Thus, I write many long letters, snail mail, and post them virulently and happily. From what I’m told, they are received happily too. (But not published yet,) :-)