Mary Robinson, nicknamed 'Perdita' by the Prince of Wales after her role on the London stage, was a woman in whom showmanship and reckless behaviour contrasted with romantic sensibility and radical thinking. Born in Bristol in 1758, she moved to London with her family at a young age and was trained by Garrick for the theatre. After a royal command performance as Perdita in 'The Winter's Tale', she was hotly pursued by George, the 17-year-old Prince of Wales, and she became his first mistress. He gave her GBP20,000, a house in Berkeley Square, and another in Old Windsor; the popular press followed the affair with glee and gusto. But when he left her she blackmailed him for the return of his letters. A string of other high-profile lovers followed including Lord Malden, Charles James Fox and, most notably, Lt Col Tarlton. However, a miscarriage left mary semi-paralysed and when her last lover deserted her to marry someone else, she wrote two novels in revenge. Here growing literary reputation brought in many friends, including Coleridge but her death saw the bailiffs trying to evict her from her cottage.
This lively account of one of the most extraordinary women of her age is set against the social, literary, political and military background of the times.show more