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About the book
  • Published: 15 March 2011
  • ISBN: 9780857500328
  • Imprint: Bantam
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • RRP: $39.99

Bird Of Paradise

The Colourful Career of the First Mrs Robinson

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The extraordinary rags-to-riches story of the first Mary Robinson, one of the 18th century's most admired, reviled and written-about women.

Few women’s lives have described such an arc as that of Mary Robinson. She began her career as an actress, became a royal mistress and possible blackmailer, and ended it just two decades later as a Romantic poet and early feminist thinker of note. She was painted by Gainsborough and Reynolds, and satirized by political cartoonists.

Born in Bristol in 1758, she married at 15. But Mary had barely made her curtsey to society before discovering that Robinson was little better than a conman. She went with him to debtors’ prison, where she wrote her first book of verse. Encouraged by Sheridan and Garrick, who admired her beauty, she went on the stage, where she was seen by the 17-year-old Prince of Wales, and they embarked on a widely satirized liaison. Mary had made her mark in fashionable Georgian society and this, over the next two momentous decades, was where she contrived to stay.

This vivid and accessible biography explores Georgian England during a period of extreme political, social and cultural upheaval through the life of this remarkable woman.

  • Pub date: 15 March 2011
  • ISBN: 9780857500328
  • Imprint: Bantam
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • RRP: $39.99

About the Author

Sarah Gristwood

After leaving Oxford, Sarah Gristwood worked as a journalist specializing in the arts and women's issues. She is a regular contributor to The Times, Guardian, Independent and the Evening Standard.

Arbella, her historical biography of Arbella Stuart, was widely acclaimed in hardcover, and is available as a Bantam paperback. Her forthcoming anthology of women's diaries through the ages will also be published in paperback by Bantam Books in 2006.

Also by Sarah Gristwood

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Praise for Bird Of Paradise

“A fascinating and stimulating portrait ... the literary equivalent of the famous Gainsborough of Robinson”


“Well written and sensitive...very readable'”

Independent on Sunday

“'Sarah Gristwood does a fine job of making us see that Mary Robinson matters not just as a victim of the celebrity-mad period but as an important player in British literature...[she] has written a wonderful biography'”

Mail on Sunday

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