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Mary Robinson: A Life Lived Extraordinarily

“Yesterday, a messenger arrived in town, with the very interesting and pleasing intelligence of the Tarleton, armed ship, having, after a chase of some months, captured the Perdita frigate, and brought her safe into Egham port. The Perdita is the prodigious fine clean bottomed vessel, and had taken many prizes during her cruise, particularly the Florizel, a most valuable ship belonging to the Crown, but which was immediately released, after taking out the cargo. The Perdita was captured some time ago by the Fox, but was, afterwards, retaken by the Malden, and had a sumptuous suit of new rigging, when she fell in with the Tarleton. Her manoeuvering to escape was admirable; but the Tarleton, fully determined to take her, or perish, would not give up the chace; and at length, coming alongside the Perdita, fully determined to board her, sword in hand, she instantly surrendered at discretion.” London’s Morning Post September, 1782 Mary Robinson, née Darby the English poet and novelist, was also known for her role as Perdita (heroine of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale) in 1779. It was during this performance that she attracted the notice of the young Prince of Wales, later King George IV of Great Britain and Ireland. Her affair with him ended in 1781, and “Perdita” Robinson was left to support herself through an annuity granted by the Crown (in return for some letters written by the Prince) in 1783 and through her writings. Today, she is remembered both as the first public mistress

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