1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Robinson

Isaac Reed, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1782) 1:371, 495.



MARIA ROBINSON. This lady is a native of Bristol, and the daughter of a merchant there. Her father at one period of his life was in circumstances which promised our authoress a more respectable situation than that in which she is at present distinguished. She was educated by miss Hannah More, whose name we have already mentioned in the present work; under whom she made a considerable proficiency in the elegant accomplishments of her sex. About the time that she had finished her education, the misfortunes of her father commenced. He failed in his business, and dying soon after, left our authoress totally unprovided for. The beauty of her face, the elegance of her figure, and her taste for poetry and music, naturally pointed out the stage as a resource from the distresses in which she had become involved. She was accordingly recommended to Mr. Garrick, who proposed her first appearance to be in the character of Cordelia; but before the night fixed upon for her performance, she became acquainted with Mr. Robinson, then a young lawyer, who prevailed upon her to marry him, and relinquish her design of appearing on the stage. A union which had for its foundation passion, poverty, and extravagance, was not likely to produce any happy effects. Dissipation and improvidence soon reduced them to great difficulties, which suggested a return to the former scheme of her devoting herself to the stage. She accordingly appeared in the part of Juliet at Drury-Lane, and, improving in her profession, soon became a favourite with the public. At the conclusion of the season which began in 1779, she quitted the stage, and at present lives with her husband in a state of ignominious splendor, which they have no apparent and consequently no reputable means to support. She has written many copies of verses, and one drama acted at her benefit the 30th of April 1778, called,

The Lucky Escape. M. F. 1778.

The songs only printed....

Since this article was written, I am inclined to doubt the truth of some circumstances contained in it. Later information induces me to believe, that neither the father (who is living) nor the husband of this lady, were ever in such respectable situations as they are represented to have been. It is more than probable, that they are all worthy of one another, and the best of the set is undeserving of any further notice.