Baronesa Orczy

Biografie şi Bibliografie

Baroness Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála "Emmuska" Orczy de Orczi (pron.: /ˈɔrtsiː/; 23 September 1865 – 12 November 1947) was a Hungarian-born British novelist, playwright and artist of noble origin. She is most known for her series of novels featuring the Scarlet Pimpernel. Some of her paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.

Early life

Emmuska Orczy was born in Tarnaörs, Heves County, Hungary, and was the daughter of composer Baron Felix Orczy de Orczi and Countess Emma Wass von Szentegyed und Czege. Her parents left Hungary in 1868, fearful of the threat of a peasant revolution. They lived in Budapest, Brussels, and Paris, where Emma studied music without success. Finally, in 1880, the family moved to London where they lodged with their countryman, Francis Pichler, at 162 Great Portland Street. Orczy attended West London School of Art and then Heatherley's School of Fine Art.

Although not destined to be a painter, it was at art school that she met a young illustrator named Montague MacLean Barstow, the son of an English clergyman; they married in 1894. It was the start of a joyful and happy marriage "for close on half a century one of perfect happiness and understanding of perfect friendship and communion of thought."

Writing career

They had very little money, and Orczy started to work with her husband as a translator and an illustrator to supplement his low earnings. John Montague Orczy-Barstow, their only child, was born on 25 February 1899. She started writing soon after his birth but her first novel, The Emperor's Candlesticks (1899), was a failure. She did, however, find a small following with a series of detective stories in the Royal Magazine. Her next novel, In Mary's Reign (1901) did better.

In 1903, she and her husband wrote a play based on one of her short stories about an English aristocrat, Sir Percy Blakeney, Bart., who rescued French aristocrats from the French Revolution: The Scarlet Pimpernel. She submitted her novelization of the story under the same title to 12 publishers. While waiting for the decisions of these publishers, Fred Terry and Julia Neilson accepted the play for production in the West End. Initially, it drew small audiences, but the play ran four years in London, broke many stage records, was translated and produced in other countries, and underwent several revivals. This theatrical success generated huge sales for the novel.

Orczy went on to write over a dozen sequels featuring Sir Percy Blakeney, his family, and the other members of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, of which the first, I Will Repay (1906), was the most popular. The last Pimpernel book, Mam'zelle Guillotine, was published in 1940. None of her three subsequent plays matched the success of The Scarlet Pimpernel. She also wrote popular mystery fiction and many adventure romances. Her Lady Molly of Scotland Yard was an early example of a female detective as the main character. Other popular detective stories featured The Old Man In the Corner, a sleuth who chiefly used logic to solve crimes.

Orczy's novels were racy, mannered melodramas and she favored historical fiction. Critic Mary Cadogan states "Orczy's books are highly wrought and intensely atmospheric". In The Nest of the Sparrowhawk (1909), for example, a malicious guardian in Puritan Kent tricks his beautiful, wealthy, young ward into marrying him by disguising himself as an exiled French prince. He persuades his widowed sister-in-law to abet him in this plot, in which she unwittingly disgraces one of her long lost sons and finds the other murdered by the villain. Even though this novel had no link to The Scarlet Pimpernel other than its shared authorship, the publisher advertised it as part of "The Scarlet Pimpernel Series".

Later life

Orczy's work was so successful that she was able to buy an estate in Monte Carlo.

She held politically conservative 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, Baroness Orczy formed the Women of England's Active Service League, an unofficial organisation aimed at the recruitment of female volunteers for active service. 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 on 12 November 1947.

Name pronunciation

Asked how to say her name, Orczy told The Literary Digest "or-tsey". Emmuska – a diminutive meaning "little Emma" – (accent on the first syllable—the s equivalent to our sh), thus, 'em-moosh-ka."



    Old Hungarian Fairy Tales (1895) translator with Montague Barstow
    The Enchanted Cat (1895) translator with Montague Barstow
    Fairyland's Beauty (1895) translator with Montague Barstow
    Uletka and the White Lizard (1895) translator with Montague Barstow


    The Scarlet Pimpernel (1903)
    The Sin of William Jackson (1906)
    Beau Brocade (1908)
    The Duke's Wager (1911)
    The Legion of Honour (1918), adapted from A Sheaf of Bluebells

Short story collections

    The Case of Miss Elliott (1905)
    The Old Man in the Corner (1909)
    Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (1910)
    The Man in Grey (1918)
    The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1919)
    Castles in the Air (1921)
    Unravelled Knots (1926)
    Skin o' My Tooth (1928)
    Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1929)


    The Emperor's Candlesticks (1899)
    In Mary's Reign (1901) later The Tangled Skein (1907)
    The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905)
    By the Gods Beloved (1905) later released in the US as The Gates of Kamt (1907)
    I Will Repay (1906)
    A Son of the People (1906)
    Beau Brocade (1907)
    The Elusive Pimpernel (1908)
    A Ruler of Princes (1909)
    The Nest of the Sparrowhawk (1909)
    Petticoat Government (1910)
    A True Woman (1911)
    The Traitor (1912)
    The Good Patriots (1912)
    Fire in Stubble (1912)
    Meadowsweet (1912)
    Eldorado (1913)
    Unto Cæsar (1914)
    The Laughing Cavalier (1914)
    A Bride of the Plains (1915)
    The Bronze Eagle (1915)
    Leatherface (1916)
    Lord Tony's Wife (1917)
    A Sheaf of Bluebells (1917)
    Flower o' the Lily (1918)
    His Majesty's Well-beloved (1919)
    The First Sir Percy (1921)
    The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1922)
    Nicolette: A Tale of Old Provence (1922)
    The Honourable Jim (1924)
    Pimpernel and Rosemary (1924)
    Les Beaux et les Dandys de Grand Siècles en Angleterre (1924)
    The Miser of Maida Vale (1925)
    A Question of Temptation (1925)
    The Celestial City (1926)
    Sir Percy Hits Back (1927)
    Blue Eyes and Grey (1929)
    Marivosa (1930)
    In the Rue Monge (1931)
    A Joyous Adventure (1932)
    A Child of the Revolution (1932)
    The Scarlet Pimpernel Looks at the World (1933)
    The Way of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1933)
    A Spy of Napoleon (1934)
    The Uncrowned King (1935)
    The Turbulent Duchess (1935)
    Sir Percy Leads the Band (1936)
    The Divine Folly (1937)
    No Greater Love (1938)
    Mam'zelle Guillotine (1940)
    Pride of Race (1942)
    The Will-O'-The-Wisp (1947)

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