THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL (INTRO & CHAP 1) by BARONESS ORCZY

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The Scarlet Pimpernel is the first romance/adventure 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 in Nottingham in 1903.

The novel is set during the Reign of Terror in France following the start of the French Revolution.. The title is the non de guerre of its hero and protagonist, a chivalrous Englishman who rescues aristocrats before they are sent to the guillotine. Sir Percy Blakeney leads a double life, apparently nothing more than a wealthy fop. but in reality a formidable swordsman and a quick-thinking master of disguise and escape artist. The band of gentlemen who assist him are the only ones who know of his secret identity. He is known by his symbol, a simple flower, the scarlet pimpernel

Opening at the New Theater in London's West End on January 5, 1905, the play became a favorite of British audiences, eventually playing more than 2,000 performances and becoming one of the most popular shows staged in London. Published after the success of the play, the novel was an immediate success, gaining Orczy a following of readers in Britain and the rest of the world.

Orczy's premise of a daring hero who cultivates a secret identity disguised by a meek or ineffectual manner proved enduring. Zorro, the Shadow ,Superman and Batman followed within a few decades, and the trope remains a popular one in serial fiction today.

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