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Emma Orczy

Novelist

Country:Hungary, United Kingdom

Lifetime: 1865 - 1947 Passed: ≈ 74 years ago

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.

 

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