10 Mysterious Disappearances You've Never Heard Of

9. Louis Le Prince

One of the great forgotten pioneers of motion picture technology, Frenchman Louis Le Prince was an artist and inventor of admirable genius. Born in 1841, Le Prince worked in his native country, and also in the United States and England. He is arguably the first person ever to capture a moving picture sequence using a single-lens camera and film-strip.

By 1888, Le Prince was working in the city of Leeds, in the North of England, and much secrecy surrounded his experiments.

It seems certain that the inventor was in-step or slightly ahead of contemporaries such as William Frese-Greene and Wordsworth Donisthorpe, and far in advance of the Lumière brothers and Thomas Edison. Sadly, planned public demonstrations were never held, due to Le Prince's sudden and unexplained disappearance.

He was last observed boarding a train, in September, 1890, and never seen again. Rumours of heavy debts or secret homosexuality circulated, but it seems we will never know for sure. You can read a fuller account of this fascinating story here.


Chris Wheatley is a journalist and writer from Oxford, UK. He has too many records, too many guitars and not enough cats.