Working name of collaborating French writers Emile Erckmann (1822-1899) and Alexandre Chatrian (1826-1890). Their first book was Contes Fantastique (1847). Their best-known work in translation is Le Juif Polonais (1871; trans as The Polish Jew), describing the psychological decline of a murderer; in its long-running stage version, The Bells, this became Henry Irving's most celebrated role.
They wrote many supernatural and fantasy short stories (including "L'Oeil Invisible", "L'Araignee Crabe" and "Le Blanc et le Noir") and novellas including "La Maison Forestière" and the Werewolf classic "Hugues le Loup". These were much admired – in their original French texts – by M R James and other connoisseurs of French romantic Gothic fiction.
Most of these stories were translated into English in various collections: The Forest House (coll 1871 UK), Popular Tales and Romances (coll 1872 UK), Confessions of a Clarinet Player (coll 1874 UK), Stories of the Rhine (coll 1875 UK), The Man-Wolf (coll 1876 UK) and The Wild Huntsman (coll 1877 UK) and Strange Stories (coll 1880 US). The best modern collection is The Best Tales of Terror of Erckmann-Chatrian (1981 UK) ed Hugh Lamb.
After over 40 years of collaboration, the two men quarrelled violently in 1889 and, following an acrimonious lawsuit, became bitter enemies. [RD]