Collection: Baroness Orczy

Baroness Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála Orczy de Orci, or Baroness “Emmuska” Orczy to her friends and loved ones, was born on Sept 23, 1865, in Tarnaörs, Hungary. Her family, fearing a peasant revolution, fled to Budapest, eventually traveling to Brussels and Paris, where the Baroness lived until she was 14. From there they moved to London, where she attended two schools of art and met her husband, Henry George Montagu MacLean Barstow.

They were married in 1894, and when she had her first child in 1899, she began her career as a writer.

Her first novel, The Emperor’s Candlesticks, was a failure, but the Baroness found success writing detective stories for The Royal Magazine. Her second novel, In Mary’s Reign, was published in 1901, faring much better than her first.
Then in 1903, she and her husband wrote a stage play based on one of her short stories. The Baroness also submitted a novelization of the play under the same title to twelve publishers. While waiting for word from the publishers, The Scarlet Pimpernel stage play was accepted for production in London’s West End. It began by bringing small audiences, but ran for four years and became one of Britain’s most popular plays.

The Baroness wrote many more stories about the Scarlet Pimpernel, accumulating 15 novels and 19 short stories. She is credited with introducing “the hero with a secret identity” trope into popular culture, and was a founding member of The Detection Club, a group of British mystery writers such as Agatha Christie. Baroness Emma Orczy passed away in London on November 12, 1947, in London after a long, happy marriage and successful career.

Baroness Orczy