From the creator of Scarlet Pimpernel comes an equally memorable character a sleuth like no other. A nameless old man sits in the corner of a cosy London tea shop, and without leaving his seat, solves baffling crimes reported to him by a journalist.
Using just deduction and ratiocination, the old man in the corner unravels the solutions to a range of criminal cases from sensational murders ('The Lisson Grove Mystery') and daring thefts ('The Affair at the Novelty Theatre') to brilliant deceptions ('The Liverpool Mystery) and deadly blackmail schemes ('The Murder of Miss Pebmarsh').
Set in the golden days of gaslight London, these ingenious, skilfully crafted stories by Baroness Orczy are an integral part of the dawn of detective fiction and will delight fans of Sherlock Holmes.
Baroness Orczy (full name: Emma Magdalena Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála Orczy de Orci ; 1865 1947), usually known as Baroness Orczy (the name under which she was published) or to her family and friends as Emmuska Orczy, was a Hungarian-born British novelist and playwright. 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 French aristocrats from "Madame Guillotine" during the French Revolution, establishing the "hero with a secret identity" in popular culture.
Orczy was born in Tarnaörs, Hungary, the daughter of the composer Baron Félix Orczy de Orci (and Countess Emma Wass de Szentegyed et Cege. Emma's parents left their estate for Budapest in 1868, fearful of the threat of a peasant revolution. They lived in Budapest, Brussels, and Paris, where Emma studied music unsuccessfully. Finally, in 1880, the 14-year-old Emma and her family moved to London, England where they lodged at 162 Great Portland Street. Orczy attended West London School of Art and then the Heatherley School of Fine Art. 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 7 November 1894.
They had very little money and Orczy started to work with her husband as a translator and an illustrator to supplement his meagre 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. In 1903, she and her husband wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel, first as a play. She had conceived the character while standing on a platform on the London Underground. She submitted her novelization of the story under the same title to 12 publishers and was accepted by Greening before later signing on for the full series with Hodder & Stoughton.
Orczy's work (she wrote many sequels and it became a bestselling series) was so successful that she was able to buy a house in Monte Carlo: "Villa Bijou" at 19 Avenue de la Costa (since demolished), which is where she spent World War II. She was not able to return to London until after the war. Montagu Barstow died in Monte Carlo in 1942. Finding herself alone and unable to travel, she wrote her memoir Links in the Chain of Life (published 1947). She died in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire on 12 November 1947.