Emmuska Orczy, was a Hungarian-born British novelist and playwright. Orczy is best known for her series of novels featuring the Scarlet Pimpernel, the alter ego of Sir Percy Blakeney, a wealthy English fop who turns into a quick-thinking escape artist in order to save French aristocrats from "Madame Guillotine" during the French Revolution, establishing the "hero with a secret identity" in popular culture.
Opening in London's West End on 5 January 1905, The Scarlet Pimpernel became a favorite of British audiences. Some of Orczy's paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in London. During World War I, she formed the Women of England's Active Service League, an unofficial organization aimed at encouraging women to persuade men to volunteer for active service in the armed forces.
Orczy's work was so successful that she was able to buy a house in Monte Carlo, "Villa Bijou" at 19 Avenue de la Costa (since demolished), which is where she spent World War Two. She was not able to return to London until after the war. Montagu Barstow died in Monte Carlo in 1942. Finding herself alone there and unable to travel, she wrote her memoir, Links in the Chain of Life (published 1947).
She held strong political views. Orczy was a firm believer in the superiority of the aristocracy, as well as being a supporter of British imperialism and militarism. During the First World War, Orczy formed the Women of England's Active Service League, an unofficial organisation aimed at encouraging women to persuade men to volunteer for active service in the armed forces. Her aim was to enlist 100,000 women who would pledge "to persuade every man I know to offer his service to his country". Some 20,000 women joined her organisation. Orczy was also strongly opposed to the Soviet Union.
She died in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire on 12 November 1947.
Books by Emma Orczy
The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Scarlet Pimpernel narrates the story of a rich English baronet who rescues French aristocrats facing the guillotine. He also taunted his enemies after each rescue by leaving behind a card that has a small flower on it – the scarlet pimpernel. It...
Castles in the Air
Castles in the Air, a short novel or perhaps more like a collection of short stories with memories of a French rogue in the early 19th century Paris, was published in 1921 and about it I quote from the foreword: "In very truth my good friend Ratichon...
Lord Tony's Wife
Lord Tony's Wife, by Baroness Orczy is a sequel book to the classic adventure tale, The Scarlet Pimpernel. It was first published in 1917.
The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel
The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel, first published in 1922, is a book in the series about the Scarlet Pimpernel's adventures by Baroness Orczy. Again Orczy interweaves historic fact with fiction, this time through the real life figures of Thérésa...
Unravelled Knots is the third and final installment of the Old Man in the Corner stories by Baroness Orczy. After a break of several years, Polly returns to the ABC Tea Shop to find the Old Man at his usual table with his glass of milk and bit of str...
Pimpernel and Rosemary
It is set after the First World War and features Peter Blakeney, a descendant of the Scarlet Pimpernel (Percy Blakeney).Pimpernel and Rosemary is a novel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, originally published in 1924.