Lady Molly of Scotland Yard
Lady Molly of Scotland Yard
Lady Molly of Scotland Yard is a collection of short stories about Molly Robertson-Kirk, an early fictional female detective. It was written by Baroness Orczy, who is best known as the creator of The Scarlet Pimpernel, but who also invented two turn-of-the-century detectives in The Old Man in the Corner and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard.
First published in 1910, Orczy's female detective was the precursor of the lay sleuth who relies on brains rather than brawn. The book soon became very popular, with three editions appearing in the first year. As well as being one of the first novels to feature a female detective as the main character, Orczy's outstandingly successful police officer preceded her real life female counterparts by a decade.
Lady Molly, like her fictional contemporaries, most often succeeded because she recognised domestic clues foreign to male experience. Her entry into the police is motivated by a desire to save her fiancé from a false accusation. Once her superior intuition has triumphed, Lady Molly marries and leaves the force.
Baroness Emma Orczy (Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála Orczy de Orci) (23 September 1865 – 12 November 1947), usually known as Baroness Orczy (the name under which she was published) or to her family and friends as Emmuska Orczy, was a Hungarian-born British novelist and playwright. Along with writing, some of Orczy's paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in London. During World War I, she formed the Women of England's Active Service League, an unofficial organisation aimed at encouraging women to persuade men to volunteer for active service in the armed forces.
Orczy was the daughter of the composer Baron Félix Orczy de Orci (1835–1892) and Countess Emma Wass de Szentegyed et Cege.
Emma's parents left their estate for Budapest in 1868, fearful of the threat of a peasant revolution. They lived in Budapest, Brussels, and Paris, where Emma studied music unsuccessfully. Finally, in 1880, the 14-year-old Emma and her family moved to London, England where they lodged with their countryman, Francis Pichler, at 162 Great Portland Street. Orczy attended West London School of Art and then the Heatherley School of Fine Art.
Although not destined to be a painter, it was at art school that she met a young illustrator named Henry George Montagu MacLean Barstow, the son of an English clergyman; they were married at St Marylebone parish church on 7 November 1894. It was the start of a joyful and happy marriage, which she described as "for close on half a century, one of perfect happiness and understanding, of perfect friendship and communion of thought.”
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