Fitz-James O'Brien was born and lived in Ireland (1828-1852) and emigrated in 1852 to America, where he became the leading writer of horror stories in the decade following the death of Edgar Allen Poe. The year 1858 saw the publication of his best-known stories, “The Diamond Lens,” “From Hand to Mouth” and “The Lost Room,” in the September edition of Harper's New Monthly Magazine.
“The Lost Room” is a first-person narrative in which the unnamed protagonist, sitting in his New-York apartment, makes an inventory of his possessions. His objects (a gothic lithograph, a smoking-cap, a piano, snow-shoes and an old dagger) recall personal memories of his life, friends, love and family. Because the atmosphere is too oppressive, he leaves his room and gets out into the garden. There he meets a strange creature who tells him the other lodgers of the house are "enchanters,” "ghouls,” "cannibals" and that he is now their enemy because he was "of them once" . When the protagonist gets back into his room, he finds it changed and occupied by half a dozen strange men and women indulging in a bacchanalian orgy and his property curiously altered. Unable to prove to them that it is his own apartment, he is challenged into risking it on a throw of the dice. When he loses, he finds his room vanishing out of existence.