Bird Of Paradise

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Publisher: Bantam Books

ISBN: 9780553816174

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A singular history of Georgian England through the prism of the rags-to-riches story of Mary Robinson who rose to become mistress of George IV and a cause celebre in 18th century England.

Few women’s lives have described such an arc as that of Mary Robinson – or Perdita, as she was widely known. She began her career as an actress, royal mistress and possible blackmailer, and ended it just two decades later as a Romantic poet and early feminist thinker of note. She was the subject of paintings by Gainsborough and Reynolds, and of a hundred political cartoons. Variously portrayed as a wounded innocent and a harlot, she deliberately chose, in her later career, to make a political issue of her sexuality.

Born in 1758, she married at fifteen, and shortly after, followed her husband into debtor’s prison where she wrote her first book of poems. Encouraged by Sheridan and Garrick, who admired her beauty, she went on the stage. It was her role as Perdita in A Winter’s Tale that brought her to the attention of the 17-year-old Prince of Wales, and they embarked on a widely satirized liaison. Mary had made her mark in fashionable Georgian high society and, over the next two decades, this was where she contrived to stay.

This wonderful biography, vividly and compellingly told by the acclaimed biographer of Arbella Stuart, explores Georgian England during a period of extreme political upheaval through the life of one extraordinary woman.

Author: Sarah Gristwood

Publisher: Bantam Books

ISBN: 9780553816174

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