Who? From her wiki entry, the Baroness Orczy:

…was a Hungarian-born British novelist, playwright and artist of noble origin. She is most known for her series of novels featuring the Scarlet Pimpernel. Some of her paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.

Thescarletpimpernel1908

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Ah, The Scarlet Pimpernel! What a wonderful combination of an adventure story and romance!

I’m not sure if I read the book first or saw the (1934) movie with Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon, and Raymond Massey but it was a fun read and the movie is a fun watch. If for no other reason, this piece of doggerel poetry makes it worthwhile:

We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven? — Is he in hell?
That damned, elusive Pimpernel

There is also a TV movie version from 1982 starring Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour, and Ian McKellan.

The book is in the public domain and can be found various places online (including the one I linked to above from Project Gutenberg.) I have it on my Kindle where it is free from Amazon.

The basic story is about a band of English nobles working together to save French aristocrats from the guillotine, led by the man known only as The Scarlet Pimpernel:

The Scarlet Pimpernel is set in 1792, during the early stages of the French Revolution. Marguerite St. 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. Cyr, who had ordered her brother to be beaten for his romantic interest in the Marquis’ daughter, with the unintended consequence of the Marquis and his sons being sent to the guillotine. When Percy found out, he became estranged from his wife. Marguerite, for her part, became disillusioned with Percy’s shallow, dandyish lifestyle.

The Scarlet Pimpernel has also had a wide and varied bunch of parodies over the years with my favorite of these being The Scarlet Pumpernickel with Daffy Duck in the “title” role.

Now about those tumbrels and pitchforks…

Photo from WikiCommons and is Public Domain