Studies in the Literary Backgrounds of English Radicalism: With Special Reference to the French Revolution

By M. Ray Adams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
MRS. MARY ROBINSON: A STUDY OF HER LATER CAREER

THE glamorous early years of Mrs. Mary Robinson have been allowed to obscure her later more solid contributions to the serious life and thought of her time. The adventures of a dangerously beautiful woman have alone kept her name alive. She has been remembered only in the breach of the decencies and sanctities of life, whereas she should be remembered as well in the observance of them. Her memory has been shorn of the credit of the real literary accomplishments which represented the more excellent part of her character. Numerous "authentic histories" and "novels founded on fact" have told the story of her romantic attachment to George IV when Prince of Wales and its disillusioning end. But no one has assigned her the station of intellectual dignity to which her powers of mind entitle her. That she had brains as well as beauty must have accounted in part for the interest of men like Fox, Murphy, Garrick, Sheridan, Reynolds, Godwin, and Coleridge in her. Yet few would have accepted the prediction of a writer in 1791 "that the picture of the fair writer's mind will long outlive the portrait of her person, though drawn by the pencil of a Reynolds."1 Even during her stage career, before the powers of her mind were fully unfolded, Garrick,

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1
Analytical Review, July, 1791.

-104-

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