Sir Percy Blakeney lives a double life in the England of 1792: at home he is an idle fop and a leader of fashion, but abroad he is the Scarlet Pimpernel, a master of disguise who saves aristocrats from the guillotine. When the revolutionary French state seeks to unmask him, Percy's estranged, independent wife, Marguerite, unwittingly sets their agent on her husband's track. Percy's escapades, and Marguerite's daring journey to France to save him from the guillotine, keep the reader turning the pages of Baroness Orczy's well-paced romantic adventure. Written in just five weeks in 1903, Baroness Emma Orczy's bestseller has been the basis of multiple adaptations. Rooted in the upheaval of Orczy's Hungarian childhood, and in the anxious nationalism of turn-of-the-century Britain, the story of the Scarlet Pimpernel provided a blueprint not only for subsequent historical swashbucklers, but for superheroes from Zorro to Superman. This edition places The Scarlet Pimpernel within the context of the elite and popular literature of the turn of the century. Orczy's novel is close in kin to such contemporary political thrillers as Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent (1907); tales that channeled contemporary concerns about refugees and enemies within.