2005 is the centenary of the first publication of
The Scarlet Pimpernel
This is one of the most adventurous historical romances ever written. It has mystery, intrigue, excitement and romance.
It was not, however, an instant success. Baroness Orczy tried almost every publisher in London, and they all turned it down. It was rescued by Fred Terry and his wife Julia Neilson, who dramatised it in 1903.
It was revived regularly right up to the War, and on the strength of its theatrical success the novel was published at last in 1905. The rest, as they say, is history.
It has been turned into films, TV dramas and has been published in 16 languages.
Orczy immediately started to write sequels. Over 35 years, she wrote 12 books about the Pimpernel and his followers along with lots of other popular novels.
The first film had Leslie Howard as Sir Percy,
and the wonderful brooding Raymond Massey as
the villainous Chauvelin.
Merle Oberon was Marguerite.
Later, Anthony Andrews would play the role of the Pimpernel, and Jane Seymour Marguerite.
And later still, Richard E Grant played the Pimpernel on TV, in a series of adventures
With special thanks to Sophie Weston, a long-time fan of The Scarlet Pimpernel.