The Scarlet Pimpernel is the first novel in a series of historical fiction by Baroness Orczy, published in 1905. It was written after her stage play of the same title enjoyed a long run in London, having opened the scarlet letter essays Nottingham in 1903. The novel is set during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution.
The title is the nom de guerre of its hero and protagonist, a chivalrous Englishman who rescues aristocrats before they are sent to the guillotine. Opening at the New Theatre in London’s West End on January 5, 1905, the play became a favourite of British audiences, eventually playing more than 2,000 performances and becoming one of the most popular shows staged in Britain. Orczy’s premise of a daring hero who cultivates a secret identity disguised by a meek or ineffectual manner proved enduring. The Scarlet Pimpernel is set in 1792, during the early stages of the French Revolution. Just, a beautiful French actress, is the wife of wealthy English fop Sir Percy Blakeney, a baronet. Before their marriage, Marguerite took revenge upon the Marquis de St.
Meanwhile, the “League of the Scarlet Pimpernel”, a secret society of twenty English aristocrats, “one to command, and nineteen to obey”, is engaged in rescuing their French counterparts from the daily executions of the Reign of Terror. At a ball attended by the Blakeneys, a verse by Percy about the “elusive Pimpernel” makes the rounds and amuses the other guests. Meanwhile, Marguerite is blackmailed by Citizen Chauvelin, the wily new French envoy to England. Chauvelin’s agents have stolen a letter proving her beloved brother Armand is in league with the Pimpernel. Later that night, Marguerite finally tells her husband of the terrible danger threatening her brother and pleads for his assistance. He had hidden behind the persona of a dull, slow-witted fop to deceive the world.
He had not told Marguerite because of his worry that she might betray him, as she had the Marquis de St. At Calais, Percy openly approaches Chauvelin in the Chat gris, a decrepit inn whose owner is in Percy’s pay. Despite Chauvelin’s best efforts, the Englishman manages to escape by offering Chauvelin a pinch of snuff, which turns out to be pure pepper. With Marguerite’s love and courage amply proven, Percy’s ardour is rekindled.
Safely back on board their schooner, the Day Dream, the happily reconciled couple returns to England. Sir Andrew marries the count’s daughter, Suzanne. Sir Percy Blakeney: He is a wealthy English baronet who rescues individuals sentenced to death by the guillotine. He soon reveals himself to be a master of disguise, an imaginative planner, a formidable swordsman and a quick-thinking escape artist.