Poet, novelist, actor, and periodical editor, Mary Robinson, née Darby, enjoyed a short but apparently tranquil rural childhood before her father, a Bristol merchant, sustained heavy losses on his investment in an unsuccessful whaling venture. Insolvent and accompanied by a mistress, Mr. Darby brought his family to London, where he separated from his wife, establishing her and the children in Chelsea. Mary’s education included several boarding schools, most notably first at the Bristol school run by Hannah More’s sisters, and later with a Mrs. Lorrington, a talented but alcoholic woman who encouraged Mary’s penchant for literature and experiments in composing verse. By the time Mary reached fourteen, finances had become so strained that her mother established her own boarding school with Mary assisting in teaching grammar and literature. Mr. Darby soon broke up this project, and Mary was sent to a finishing school. There her dancing master introduced her to actor, playwright, and theater manager David Garrick (1717–1779), who later helped launch her acting career.
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- Mary Darby Robinson (1758–1800)
Mary A. Waters
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