Emma Orczy was born into an aristocratic Hungarian family in 1865. After their estate was nearly destroyed by fire following a dispute with the local peasantry, the family left Hungary and lived in Brussels and Paris before settling in London, where Orczy studied art. Short of money, she turned to writing and in 1903 enjoyed wild success with the stage version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which was a smash hit on the West End. Orczy's novelisation was likewise successful and spawned many sequels, allowing her to live out her later years in style in England and Monte Carlo. She died in 1947.