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Sappho and Phaon (Dodo Press)

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Sappho and Phaon (Dodo Press)

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Mary Robinson, nee Darby (1757-1800) was an English poet and novelist. During her lifetime she was known as ‘the English Sappho’. She was also known for her role as Perdita (heroine of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale) in 1779 and as the first public mistress of George IV. After seeing her as Perdita, and declaring himself enraptured with her, the Prince of Wales, offered Mary Robinson twenty thousand pounds to become his mistress. However, he soon tired of her and abandoned her after a year, refusing to pay the money. Her reputation was destroyed by the affair, and she could no longer find work as an actress. Eventually, the Crown agreed to pay Robinson five thousand pounds, in return for the Prince’s love letters to her. In 1783, at the age of 26, Robinson suffered a mysterious illness that left her partially paralyzed. From the late 1780s, she became distinguished for her poetry. In addition to poems, she wrote six novels, two plays, a feminist treatise, and an autobiographical manuscript that was incomplete at the time of her death.

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