William Tufnell Le Queux was born on July 2, 1864, in London, the eldest son of William Le Queux of Châteauroux, France. Traveling extensively with his parents during his childhood, he was educated in London, France, and at Pegli, near Genoa. As a young man, Le Queux studied art in Paris, but his desire to travel led him to give up a career as a painter. During a trip to Russia, he gathered material for his first book, Guilty Bonds (1891), which dealt with the revolutionary movement in czarist Russia and was banned in that country. Later, he worked as a correspondent and from 1891 to 1893 served as foreign editor of London’s Globe newspaper. In 1893, he resigned from his position to devote most of his time to writing novels.
In the early part of the twentieth century, Le Queux visited North Africa and the Middle East and also made a trip to the Arctic. He was London’s Daily Mail correspondent during the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). At one time, he also served as consul to the Republic of San Marino. During and after World War I, Le Queux was popularly believed to have been involved in espionage work for the British government. Indeed, he himself insisted that his novels were written to support himself as a freelance member of the British secret service.
After retiring to Switzerland, he continued to write and lecture on spies and their techniques. He became an expert in wireless transmission and was a member of the Institute of Radio Engineers and president of the Wireless Experimental Association. Le Queux died of natural causes in Switzerland on October 13, 1927.