This week on the A-Z of crime fiction series we reach the rather difficult letter O. After much fruitless research I settled on Baroness Orczy. (can you think of any other representation for O????)
Baroness Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála “Emmuska” Orczy de Orci was born in 1865 in Hungary. She was the daughter of a composer and a countess. The family left Hungary when she was a young girl because of fears of a peasant result and moved around Europe, settling in London when she was 14. She studied at art school in the city and met her future husband there. Money was tight for the couple and shortly after the birth of their first child Emma started writing.
She and her husband wrote a play about the Scarlet Pimpernell which Emma also produced in novel format. The play became a huge success and this in turn ensured success for the novel.
Her foray into detective fiction – Lady Molloy of Scotland Yard – had a female detective in the lead role. The book features a number of short stories about Molly Robertson-Kirk, a very early fiction female detective who uses brains to investigate. At the time of writing the novel there weren’t women in the police so this was definitely a test of imagination.