Baroness Orczy

by the Editors of The Royal Magazine

While researching our presentation of the complete The Old Man in the Corner, I stumbled across this article that appeared in the April, 1902 issue of The Royal Magazine. Written when the Baroness was only thirty-seven years old—and just beginning to achieve the literary fame she would enjoy for the rest of her days—it not only provides an interesting snapshot of her life, but also of the late-Victorian attitudes of the articles's unknown author. The same issue featured the first appearance of "The Glasgow Mystery": a story obliquely referred to in the introductory text.

The article appears just as it did in The Royal Magazine (with some minor changes in layout) and all the spelling is as it appeared in the orginal.

Bob Gay
July, 2013
Introduction © 2013 by Bob Gay

Baroness Orczy from The Royal Magazine April 1902
Baroness Orczy
circa 1902
from The Royal Magazine
April, 1902.


The creator of "The Man in the Corner," and the author of the new series of tales entitled "The Mysteries of Great Cities," which commences in the present number.

Last September the Royal Magazine published the finish of a series of thrilling and cleverly conceived detective stories entitled, "London Mysteries," told to a lady journalist by a remarkable personage who goes by the name of “The Man in the Corner," since he always sits in one particular corner in the A.B.C. shop, where he is interviewed. His chief peculiarity is the knotted string in his fingers and his glass of milk at his side. The accomplished authoress has now written for us a second series, treating with mysteries which have baffled the police wholly and utterly in the large provincial centres of the British Isles.

Baroness Emmuska Orczy is of Hungarian family, and was born at Tama-Örs in the Lowlands of Hungary. Her father, the Baron Orczy, after holding the post of Director of the National Opera at Buda-Pesth—where he brought from comparative obscurity the great conductor Dr. Hans Richter—and some important diplomatic offices, came over to England with his fourteen-year-old daughter. here Baroness Emmauska set herself to study art at various schools, exhibiting several times at the Royal Academy, her picture "The Jolly Young Waterman" in 1892 gaining a place on the line. She also painted a portrait of Sir henry Irving—Mr. Irving, as he was then—for the National Museum of Dramatic Art in Buda-Pesth. She describes with pleasure her many visits to the delightful studio of the late Edwin Long, R.A., in Hampstead, when she sat as a pronounced Eastern type for the eminent Academician.

It was not, however, until 1894, that the Baroness entered the ranks of literature. In that year she produced with her husband, Mr. Montagu Barstow, a book of fairy tales illustrated and written by themselves. But to her, the real interest of the book was in the illustrating, which fell largely to her lot.

Her serious writing days, one may say, began about four years ago, when staying with her husband in a house where all were engaged in magazine work, she caught the infection, and has since been bound hand and foot to this fascinating pastime.

Her first short work of fiction appeared in Pearson's Magazine. Baroness Orczy soon intends to publish stories in French and German, with a view to ascertain which country takes the greatest interest in her work. She also hopes to write a novel dealing with Hungarian life, trusting to gain the sympathies of British public in a country so unknown and obscure to us. It is curious to note that she has never written in her native tongue. But she will do so soon.

The Baroness is, I suppose, the only living writer who finds herself perfectly at home when writing in a language other than her own. Personally, the Baroness Orczy is one of the most charming of women. But she is not at all English in her manner and conversation. Of course, she speaks English perfectly and with only the slightest foreign intonation, and yet no one would ever mistake her for an Englishwoman. Her manner is far too alert and vivacious; and she possesses what our countrywomen generally lack, charming as they are, remarkable conversational powers, interest in all manner of subjects, and a large fund of ideas. We are sure our readers will wish the charming authoress of "London Mysteries" every success in her literary career.

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