by BD Mitchell
One hundred facts that are interesting but ultimately useless.
The Scarlet Pimpernel
- history / literature -
The "Scarlet Pimpernel" novels are considered to be the literary ancestor of many modern superhero tropes. Created by British author Emma Orczy in 1905, the stories follow Sir Percy Blakeney, a seemingly prissy and harmless English aristocrat during the age of the Frence Revolution. In secret, however, Sir Percy adopts the guise of the Scarlet Pimpernel, a brilliant escape artist and master swordsman who rescues men sentenced to death by the French government. His heroic persona is named after his calling card and symbol, a small reddish flower known as a "pimpernel" (Anagallis arvensis).
Many of the Scarlet Pimpernel's attributes -- a signature weapon, a playboy alter ego, a theatrical hero identity -- were influences in later crime-fighting characters like Zorro, the Shadow, and Batman.