The Scarlet Pimpernel (Novel)

Author

  • Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Books

Characters

  • Sir Percy Blakeney, aka the Scarlet Pimpernel
  • Lady Margurite Blakeney (née St. Just)
  • Armand Chauvelin
  • Armand St. Just

Brief Summary

During the early stages of the French Revolution, Marguerite, a beautiful Frenchwoman, married a wealthy English fop Sir Percy Blakeney, baronet. Before their marriage, Marguerite took revenge upon the Marquis de St. Cyr for having her brother beaten, with the unintended consequence of the Marquis and his family being sent to the guillotine. When Percy found out, the couple became estranged.

Meanwhile, the "League of the Scarlet Pimpernel", a secret society of English aristocrats, is engaged in rescuing their French counterparts and unfortunate innocents from execution. Their leader, the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, takes his nickname from the a small red flower with which he signs his messages. Despite being the talk of London society, only his followers know the Pimpernel's true identity. Like many others, Marguerite is entranced by the Pimpernel's daring exploits.

Marguerite is blackmailed by the new French envoy, Citizen Armand Chauvelin. Chauvelin's agents have stolen a letter incriminating her beloved brother Armand St. Just, proving that he is helping the Pimpernel. Chauvelin offers to trade Armand's life for her help against the Pimpernel. Marguerite discovers and passes along information which enables Chauvelin to learn the Pimpernel's true identity.

Later that night, Marguerite pleads for her husband's help. Percy promises to save Armand. After Percy leaves for France, Marguerite realizes that he is the Pimpernel. He had hidden behind the persona of a slow-witted fop in order to deceive the world. Desperate to save her husband, she pursues Percy to France to warn him that Chauvelin knows his identity and his purpose.

See Also

  • The Scarlet Pimpernel (musical)

External Links

The Scarlet Pimpernel was first a stage play that opened in 1903 with the novel following shortly afterwards.

1903 (play) starring Fred Terry (Orczy's definitive Sir Percy actor)
1905 (novel) html | text | Libri Vox (audio)
1913 Eldorado (novel) text | Libri Vox (audio)
1917 (silent movie) starring Dustin Farnum as Sir Percy
1934 (movie) starring Leslie Howard as Sir Percy IMDB video
1982 (TV movie) starring Anthony Andrews as Sir Percy with Malcolm Jamieson as Armand
1997 (musical) starring Douglas Sills as Sir Percy with Giles Chiasson as Armand
1999 (TV series) starring Richard E. Grant as Sir Percy

  • Blakeney Manor - a website devoted to Pimpernel fandom (fairly extensive if a bit snobby)

There are references to the Scarlet Pimpenel or the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel in other media and stories. The only big ones that come to my mind at the moment are Daffy Duck's The Scarlet Pumpernickel, Blackadder the Third's "Nob and Nobility" and the Blakeneys are included in a portrait in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I believe. The Pimpernel was a forerunner to all the secret-identity type superheroes. Zorro was blatantly the same story transferred to Spanish colonial California, and Bruce Wayne/Batman as a rich man righting wrongs are the most obvious.
References (with additional explanation for 4th Wall questions):

The Scarlet Pimpernel (Wikipedia)

The Scarlet Pimpernel was first a stage play that opened in 1903 with the novel following shortly afterwards.

1903 (play) starring Fred Terry (Orczy's definitive Sir Percy actor)
1905 (novel) html | text | Libri Vox (audio)
1913 Eldorado (novel) text | Libri Vox (audio)
1917 (silent movie) starring Dustin Farnum as Sir Percy with Jack Nelson as Armand
1934 (movie) starring Leslie Howard as Sir Percy with Walter Rilla as Armand
1982 (TV movie) starring Anthony Andrews as Sir Percy with Malcolm Jamieson as Armand
1997 (musical) starring Douglas Sills as Sir Percy with Giles Chiasson as Armand
1999 (TV series) starring Richard E. Grant as Sir Percy with Pascal Langadale as Armand (in first episode only)

There are other films (and books) about the Scarlet Pimpernel, but they did not include Armand. If anyone wants to know more, most of this is from IMDb or Wikipedia. The 1982 movie probably the most recognizable since it also starred Jane Seymour and Sir Ian McKellen.

Baroness Orczy (Wikipedia) | Project Gutenberg

Blakeney Manor - a website devoted to Pimpernel fandom (fairly extensive if a bit snobby)

There are references to the Scarlet Pimpenel or the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel in other media and stories. The only big ones that come to my mind at the moment are Daffy Duck's The Scarlet Pumpernickel, Blackadder the Third's "Nob and Nobility" and the Blakeneys are included in a portrait in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I believe. And even though Wikipedia won't let people say it, the Pimpernel was the forerunner to all the secret-identity type superheroes. Zorro was blatantly the same story transferred to Spanish colonial California, and Bruce Wayne/Batman as a rich man righting wrongs are the most obvious.

The original book is often assigned as high school reading. Probably only a real bibliophile, someone who lived through the era they were originally published, or a hardcore fan will have read Eldorado. If your character encountered it during school, then they would likely know very little about Armand, and would mistakenly expect him to be nearly a decade older than he is. Certainly, only his name would ring a faint bell of recognition. A few from the later 20th century and beyond may also know the musical, which bore little resemblance to the main plot, but featured Armand as a young, naive member of the League whose arrest spurs Marguerite into spying for Chauvelin, etc.

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