Mary “Perdita” Robinson: more than just the Prince’s mistress

May 14, 2021

This recording of a live online lecture recounts the story of Mary Robinson (1756-1800), an actress and fashion icon who attracted the attention of the future King George IV while playing “Perdita” in Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’. She became his mistress, only to find herself dumped after six months. Famed now for her liaisons with the young prince and with others, Mary was painted by Romney, Gainsborough, Reynolds and John Hoppner; she was also, naturally, the subject of caricatures. Later, after a crippling accident, she reinvented herself as a romantic poet, a friend of Coleridge – according to whom she possessed ”undoubted genius” – an enthusiastic follower of Mary Wollstonecraft and, understandably, a fierce critic of Royalty and the social order. She wrote witty and perceptive novels, together with radical columns in the Morning Post under a pseudonym borrowed from Tobias Smollett: Tabitha Bramble. This powerpoint lecture, from writer and speaker Karin Fernald is illustrated with paintings, portraits and caricatures.

Recent Talks