The 'other' 'Speckled Band'
Holmes's rivals

A contemporary of Arthur Conan Doyle, Maurice Leblanc (1864-1941) was the creator of the character of gentleman thief Arsène Lupin who, in Francophone countries, has enjoyed a popularity as long-lasting and considerable as Sherlock Holmes in the English-speaking world.

There are twenty volumes in the Arsène Lupin series written by Leblanc himself, plus five authorized sequels written by the notorious mystery writing team of Boileau-Narcejac, as well as various pastiches.

The character of Lupin was first introduced in a series of short stories serialized in the magazine Je Sais Tout, starting in No. 6, dated July 1905.

Arsène Lupin is a literary descendant of Pierre Alexis Ponson du Terrail's Rocambole.

Like him, he is clearly a force for good, while operating on the wrong side of the law. Those whom Lupin defeats, always with his characteristic gallic style and panache, are worse villains than he. Lupin is somewhat similar to A.J. Raffles and anticipates characters such as The Saint.

The character of Arsène Lupin might have been based by Leblanc on French anarchist Marius Jacob, whose trial made headlines in March 1905, but Leblanc had also read Octave Mirbeau's Les 21 jours d'un neurasthénique (1901), which features a gentleman thief named Arthur Lebeau, and seen Mirbeau's comedy Scrupules (1902), whose main character is a gentleman thief.