I recently started reading the 1995 Penguin Popular Classics version of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. While reading it, however, I noticed that there is no attribution printed in the book as to who translated it. The book was originally published in French as Le fantôme de l'opéra.

I searched the copyright information in the front of the book. It mentions that it was first published in 1911. Wikipedia tells me that the first translation published in 1911 was translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos. Is this edition simply using the 1911 translation? Why wasn't Alexander de Mattos mentioned, in that case?

Who translated this version of the book, and why wasn't the translator acknowledged?

2 Answers 2


According to the Phantompedia Wiki, there are five English translations of Le Fantôme de l'Opéra:

(The wiki does not mention David Coward's translation published by Oxford University Press in 2012.)

At the time of the publication of the 1995 Penguin Popular Classics version, only two English translations had been published and only one of these was in the public domain. In 1995, copyright in the UK was extended from 50 to 70 years after the author's death. Alexander Teixeira de Mattos died in 1921 and the new law didn't enter into force until 1996 (see Extension of copyright), so in 1995 the translation could still be published as a public-domain text. For texts in the public domain, acknowledgement of the original author is not even required.

This most likely explains why the 1995 Penguin Popular Classics version does not acknowledge the translator.


TLDR: The original translation was a work for hire, and so did not have the translator's name in it. When Penguin Classics reprinted it, they did not bother to add the translator's name.

The 1911 version was originally published by the Bobbs Merrill Company, a publisher in Indianapolis. This first edition is quite rare.

This translation was reprinted by Grosset & Dunlap, in New York; you can find a copy of this reprint on Google books. You can check that this is the same text as the Penguin reprint. This edition did not have the translator's name in it; the copyright is attributed to the Bobbs Merrill Company.

Undoubtedly, what happened is that the Bobbs Merrill Company paid the translator to translate it; it is then a "work for hire" and the copyright belongs to the publisher and not the translator, so the translator's name didn't appear in the original edition. They then made some arrangement with Grosset & Dunlap, where Grosset & Dunlap reprinted it but the Bobbs Merrill Company retained the copyright.

When it was republished by Penguin in 1995, they didn't bother adding the translator's name.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.