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18th Century Theatre: Mary 'Perdita' Robinson 1757 - 1800 portrait by Thomas Gainsborough
Mary Robinson (nee Darby) (27 November 1757 – 26 December 1800) was an English poet and novelist. During her lifetime she is 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. Mary Darby was born in Bristol, England to John Darby, a sea captain, and Hester Seys. According to her memoirs, Mary gives her birth in 1758 but the year 1757 seems more likely according to recently published research. Her father deserted her mother and took on a mistress when Mary was still a child. The family hoped for a reconciliation, but Mr. Darby made it clear that this was not going to happen. Without the support of her husband, Mrs Darby supported herself and the five children born of the marriage by starting a school for young girls (where Mary taught by her 14th birthday). However, during one of his brief returns to the family, Captain Darby had the school closed (which he was entitled to do by English law). Mary, who at one point attended a school run by the social reformer Hannah More, came to the attention of actor David Garrick. Mary's mother encouraged her to accept the proposal of an articled clerk, Thomas Robinson, who claimed to have an inheritance. Mary was against this idea, however after being stricken ill, and watching him take care of her and her younger brother, she felt that she owed him, and she did not want to disappoint her mother who was pushing for the engagement. After the early marriage, Mary discovered that Thomas Robinson did not have an inheritance. Mr. Robinson continued to live an elaborate lifestyle however, and had multiple affairs that he made no effort to hide. Subsequently, she supported their family. After her husband squandered their money, the couple fled to Wales (where Mary's only living daughter was born in November). The family lived under house-arrest after Thomas Robinson was imprisoned for debt. During this time, Mary Robinson found a patron in Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire who sponsored the publication of Robinson's first volume of poems, Captivity. After her husband obtained his release from prison, Robinson decided to return to the theater. She launched her acting career and took to the stage, playing Juliet, at Drury Lane Theatre in December 1776. Robinson was best known for her facility with the 'breeches parts', her performances as Viola in Twelfth Night and Rosalind in As You Like It won her extensive praise. But she gained popularity with playing in Florizel and Perdita, an adaptation of Shakespeare, with the role of 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, who offered her twenty thousand pounds to become his mistress. With her new social prominence, Robinson became a trend-setter in London, introducing a loose, flowing muslin style of gown based upon Grecian statuary that became known as the Perdita. It took Mary a considerable amount of time to decide to leave her husband for the Prince, as she did not want to be seen by the public as that type of woman. Throughout much of her life she struggled to live in the publics eye and also stay true to the values that she believed in. She eventually gave in to her desires to be with a man whom she thought would treat her better than Mr. Robinson. However, The Prince ended the affair in 1781, refusing to pay the promised sum. "Perdita" Robinson was left to support herself through an annuity promised by the Crown (but rarely paid), in return for some letters written by the Prince, and through her writings. She again was alone and broke, and could no longer return to the stage because the public would not support her after her affair with the Prince. 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. Some time later she was able to negotiate a small annuity (five hundred pounds) from the Crown, but this was rarely paid. Mary Robinson, who now lived separately from her philandering husband, went on to have several love affairs, most notably with Banastre Tarleton, a soldier who had recently distinguished himself fighting in the American War of Independence. Their relationship survived for the next 15 years, through Tarleton's rise in military rank and his concomitant political successes, through Mary's own various illnesses, through financial vicissitudes and the efforts of Tarleton's own family to end the relationship. They had no childrpatience is a demotivator
In the end, it all worked out for the best, like it always seems to with Hendrick. Now, he must turn his attention to an even greater problem, one he might have a tougher time resolving. What to do with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his struggling No. 88 team. Earnhardt Jr.’s poor performance with NASCAR’s elite organization is an ongoing problem, one that doesn’t seem to have an immediate or obvious solution. Barring a miraculous turnaround, the sport’s most popular driver will miss the Chase For The Sprint Cup for the second straight year and his season again will end in disappointment, like it has for three straight years with Hendrick. (He won a race and made the Chase in 2008, but finished last among the 12 Chase drivers.) A year after scoring just two top-five finishes and finishing a dreadful 25th in points, Earnhardt Jr. is 17th in the standings and still falling. He now trails 12th-place Clint Bowyer by 129 points for the final Chase spot with just three races remaining. His hopes of making the Chase are fading like a worn-out streetlight at the end of a dead end street. With two top-fives and six top-10s, Earnhardt Jr. has been only slightly better than a year ago. To make matters worse, he was in prime position to make the Chase earlier this year, climbing as high as seventh in points in April. But at the most crucial time of year for Chase contenders, Earnhardt Jr. has slumped badly, finishing 19th or worse in his last five races. He said last week at Michigan that making the Chase was “not impossible” – unless, he added, he keeps running like he’s been running. And then, of course, he went out and ran like he’d been running, finishing 19th. Though the next three races – Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond – are all at good tracks for him, the chances of him rallying to make the Chase are slim. And the way he has run this season – just 68 laps led and an average finish of 17th – it’s hard to imagine him winning a race. If he doesn’t make it again and doesn’t win a race before the season is over, what hope is there entering 2011 and beyond? So what does Hendrick do now? He made a crew chief change on Earnhardt Jr.’s team last year, replacing Tony Eury Jr. – Junior’s cousin – with longtime Hendrick crew chief Lance McGrew. Earnhardt Jr. and McGrew began working together in May of last year, but made little progress the rest of the season. Hendrick gave them another chance this season, but again, the progress has been minimal. They looked like they were improving earlier this year, but, following the pattern of the last three years, just when things seem to be getting better, they take another turn for the worse. One of Hendrick’s primary goals this season was to turn around the No. 88 team, get Earnhardt Jr. back to victory lane and, hopefully, back into the Chase. It hasn’t happened. So what is Hendrick’s next move? Does he make another crew chief change? Does he perhaps give Earnhardt Jr. Alan Gustafson, Martin’s current crew chief? That wouldn’t be fair to Martin, but he’s leaving after next season anyway. And Martin, the consummate professional and team player, has proved over the years that he can win with just about any crew chief. Is there another young, up-and-coming crew chief in the Hendrick stable that might be able to provide the secret ingredient? Or does he go outside the organization, looking for an old-school crew chief that might better fit Earnhardt Jr.’s style? Earnhardt Jr.’s mysterious struggles must be troubling to Hendrick, who recruited Earnhardt Jr. to join his organization and put together a lucrative sponsorship package for him. Though Hendrick has won 188 Cup races and nine championships, he has had teams that struggled before. In fact, he almost always has at least one team that struggles. But it’s different when it’s the sport’s most popular driver, one with 18 career victories, a famous last name and millions of dollars worth of sponsorship. So how does Hendrick solve this problem? And how long does he keep trying? Earnhardt Jr. is in the third year of a five-year contract. Does Hendrick ride it out for the full five years, giving Earnhardt Jr. more rope and more chances than he would give another driver? And when does Earnhardt Jr. get fed up, growing tired of the pressure and constant struggles and deciding to move on to a less stressful environment. Hendrick a master problem-solver, but time is running out. And this one might take his best work. ~~~~~~jeff owens at scenedaily~~~~~~ No sh*t Sherlock.
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