Author photo. Baroness Emma Orczy de Orczi (1865–1947) by Bassano Ltd.

Baroness Emma Orczy de Orczi (1865–1947) by Bassano Ltd.

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Emma Magdalena Rosalia Maria Josephina Barbara, Baroness Orczy, known as Emmuska, was born in Hungary, the daughter of Baron Felix Orczy, a landed aristocrat and well-known composer and conductor, and his wife Countess Emma Wass. She was educated in Brussels, Paris, and London, and exhibited her art work in the Royal Academy. In 1894, she married Montagu Barstow, a British clergyman and artist, and they worked together as illustrators and jointly published an edition of Hungarian folk tales. Orczy became famous in 1905 with the publication of her novel The Scarlet Pimpernel (originally a play co-written with her husband). Its background of the French Revolution and swashbuckling hero, Sir Percy Blakeney, was to prove immensely popular. Sequel books followed and numerous film and TV versions have been made with the first in 1934, produced by Alexander Korda, another Hungarian. Baroness Orczy also wrote detective and adventure stories. She inherited her family’s estate of Tarna-Ors in Hungary but continued to live in England until the end of World War I, when she and her husband settled in Monte Carlo.
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