A few years ago my friend enticed me to see the 1934 movie, The Scarlet Pimpernel. I loved it and have seen it at least twice since. This week I found a used copy of Baroness Orczy’s book of the same title, from which the movie was adapted. This particular edition includes an introduction and notes by Sarah Juliette Sasson, which, alone was worth buying the book. From the jacket:
Sarah Juliette Sasson earned a PhD in French and comparative literature from Columbia University, and is a lecturer there in the Department of French and Romance Philology. She is the managing editor of the Romantic Review, a journal dedicated to Romance literatures.
Prior to Sasson’s introduction is a three page section titled “The World of Baroness Orczy and The Scarlet Pimpernel.” It begins:
1865 Baroness Emmuska Magdalena Rosalia Maria Josefa Barbara Orczy is born in Tarna-Ors, Hungary, on September 23 to a noble family. Her father, Baron Felix Orczy, is an accomplished conductor and composer. Rudyard Kipling is born. U.S. president Abraham Lincoln is assassinated.
1867 Francis Joseph I is crowned king of Hungary in Budapest, following the creation of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy. Romeo et Juliette, an opera by Charles Gounod, debuts in Paris.
1868 During a party celebrating the fifth birthday of Emma’s sister, Madeleine, peasants set fire to the family estate, protesting the introduction of mechanized farming equipment. The family moves to Budapest, where Baron Orczy, at the urging and recommendation of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, accepts a post as administrator of the National Theater. Das Rheingold, an opera by family friend Richard Wagner, debuts in Munich.
1871 Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass is published.
Among other notable people mentioned in this timetable are: Thomas Edison, Franz Kafka, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack the Ripper, Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, T.S. Eliot, and the Wright brothers.
Baronness Orczy wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel in five weeks in 1901. Two years later she and her husband collaborated on a stage version which was produced at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, England. She went on to write several stories and books that featured the Scarlet Pimpernel. She also wrote a couple of series of detective stories. One, Lady Molly of Scotland Yard featured the first female crime solver.
The timeline ends:
1947 Baroness Orczy publishes her autobiography, Links in the Chain of Life. She dies on November 12 in London.
I’d like to read that book too.