Baroness Emma "Emmuska" Orczy, Author of The Scarlett PimpernelThe Scarlet Pimpernel is the first novel in a series of historical fiction by Baroness Orczy , published in It was written after her stage play of the same title enjoyed a long run in London, having opened in Nottingham in The novel is set during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution. The title is the nom de guerre of its hero and protagonist, a chivalrous Englishman who rescues aristocrats before they are sent to the guillotine. Sir Percy Blakeney leads a double life : apparently nothing more than a wealthy fop , but in reality a formidable swordsman and a quick-thinking escape artist. The band of gentlemen who assist him are the only ones who know of his secret identity.
El Dorado by Baroness Emmuska Orczy (The Scarlet Pimpernel #5)
Baroness Emma “Emmuska” Orczy
Baroness Orczy was born in Hungary in , the daughter of Baron Felix Orczy, a landed aristocrat and well-known composer and conductor. Orczy moved with her parents from Budapest to Brussels and Paris, where she was educated. She studied art in London and exhibited work in the Royal Academy. She married Montagu Barstow and together they worked as illustrators and jointly published an edition of Hungarian folk tales. Orczy became famous in with the publication of The Scarlet Pimpernel originally a play co-written with her husband. Its background was the French Revolution and its swashbuckling hero, Sir Percy Blakeney, was to prove immensely popular.
Hungarian-British novelist, best remembered as the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel Baroness Orczy's sequels to the novel were less successful. A hero with a double identity, the Scarlet Pimpernel can be regarded as one of the forefathers of Zorro and The Shadow, and superheroes such as Superman, Batman, and the Incredible Hulk. Besides being a prolific writer, Orczy was an artist, whose works were exhibited at the Royal Academy, London. Orczy's first venture into fiction was with crime stories. In this genre, her most popular characters was The Old Man in the Corner.
She 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 ill-fated French royalty from "Madame Guillotine" during the French revolution, establishing the "hero with a secret identity " into popular culture. 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 organisation aimed at encouraging women to persuade men to volunteer for active service in the armed forces. Emma's parents left their estate for Budapest in , fearful of the threat of a peasant revolution. They lived in Budapest, Brussels, and Paris, where Emma studied music unsuccessfully. Finally, in , the year-old Emma and her family moved to London, England where they lodged with their countryman, Francis Pichler, at Great Portland Street. Although not destined to be a painter, it was at art school that she met a young illustrator named Henry George Montagu MacLean Barstow, the son of an English clergyman; they were married at St Marylebone parish church on 7th November
Inspiration for Readers and Writers from Classic Women Authors
Initially she lived a life of luxury and prestige, as her father occupied a place in the court of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Her father, Baron Felix Orczy, was a minor composer. He presided over the family estate 'Tarna Ors,' where great composers like Wagner, Liszt and Gounod used to visit. However, when the Baroness' father attempted to modernize his tenants' farming methods, a peasant revolt broke out and the family fled -- first to Brussels, then Paris, and ultimately to London. The two married in , and ended up being creative collaborators.
Both of her parents were of aristocratic ancestry. Her father Felix was a Baron and a composer and her mother, also named Emma, was a Countess and daughter of a member of the Hungarian parliament. When revolution threatened Hungary in , her parents were forced to flee their homeland and lived at various times in Budapest, Paris, and Brussels until when the family settled in London. There, Emma studied both art and music. Some of her art works were exhibited at the Royal Academy. Baroness Orczy went on to write several more sequels and prequels featuring Sir Percy as well as numerous other historical adventure novels and mysteries although none ever matched the popularity of her most famous work which is still in print today.
Born into a rich, affluent life, she used her love of romance, mystery, disguise and especially heroism to create The Scarlet Pimpernel. She took her subjects from history because modern life and modern ideas bored her. She hated modern art with its "naked ladies with green thighs and faces like acidulated pumpkins. She believed in heroes. Born in in Tarnaors, Hungary, she spent her first years in a time of "splendid feudal lords ensconced in their opulent chateaux, medieval still in their magnificence. From the start, she was a romantic.