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Mrs Jordan's Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King [Kindle Edition]

Claire Tomalin
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mrs Jordan's Profession is the acclaimed biography of Dora Jordan by bestselling author Claire Tomalin

'Intelligent, finely made and wonderfully readable. As gripping as the best fiction' Independent on Sunday

Acclaimed as the greatest comic actress of her day, Dora Jordan lived a quite different role off-stage as lover to Prince William, third son of George III. Unmarried, the pair lived in a villa on the Thames and had ten children together until William, under pressure from royal advisers, abandoned her. The story of how Dora moved between the worlds of the eighteenth-century theatre and happy domesticity, of her fights for her family and her career makes a classic story of royal perfidy and female courage.

From the acclaimed author of Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self, Charles Dickens: A Life and The Invisible Woman, this celebrated biography is one of history's most astonishing untold stories.

'The strangest and most sensational story Tomalin has told so far. A miraculously detailed portrait - as brisk, unsentimental, good-humoured and fairminded as its subject' Hilary Spurling, Daily Telegraph

'Compelling, shrewd in its judgements, exceptionally well written, and informed by a vivid sense of the past' John Gross, Sunday Telegraph

'Fascinating, affecting. A compelling story and Tomalin tells it with clarity and warmth' Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Sunday Times

Claire Tomalin is the award-winning author of eight highly acclaimed biographies, including: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft; Shelley and His World; Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life; The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens; Mrs Jordan's Profession; Jane Austen: A Life; Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self; Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man and, most recently, Charles Dickens: A Life. A former literary editor of the New Statesman and the Sunday Times, she is married to the playwright and novelist Michael Frayn.

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'This is a riveting biography...[It] conjures up a rich, alluring period which, in its brittle decadence and love of scandal and flamboyance, often seems closer than the nineteenth century to our own times...the wit and razzle-dazzle of Drury Lane...the cat's cradle of partner swapping among the Sheridans, the Royals and Dora recalls Cosi fan tutte...It is the most haunting biography I have read this year.' -- Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times 'A brilliant book, even better, if possible, than the author's previous study of Dickens's mistress, The Invisible Woman.' -- Antonia Fraser, Literary Review 'Compelling...beautifully constructed... exceptionally well-written and informed by a vivid sense of the past.' -- John Gross, Sunday Telegraph 'An admirable biography...It is hard to find a fault in her performance. It is one her subject would have esteemed for its technique, brio and human warmth.' -- Pat Rogers, Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Claire Tomalin was born in London in 1933. She has worked in publishing and journalism all her life, becoming literary editor first of the New Statesman and then of the Sunday Times, which she left in 1986. She is the author of, among other books: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft; Shelley and His World Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life; The Invisible Woman and the extraordinarily successful biography of Samuel Pepys. Other books written for Penguin are: Jane Austen: A Life and a collection of memoirs entitled Several Strangers.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 9913 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 Dec. 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9YPA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,431 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Life of a Very Visible Woman 28 Dec. 2001
By R. Simpson VINE VOICE
Claire Tomalin is perhaps best known for The Invisible Woman, the life of Ellen Ternan whose invisibility secured the respectability of Charles Dickens. Dora Jordan, on the other hand, was the very visible mistress of the Duke of Clarence, later King William IV, for some 20 years of apparently contented domesticity. During that time she managed to be a devoted mother to 10 children (plus three by previous relationships) as well as a noted comic actress at Drury Lane and elsewhere. For all that the 'invisibility factor' intruded when William got nearer to the throne with the installation as Regent of his brother George. In William's hapless pursuit of a rich (ideally royal) bride, Mrs. Jordan was conveniently ignored, dealt with only at second hand. By now rather stout and maternal for roles like Rosalind, she toured doggedly until less than a year before her untimely death.
The quality of Claire Tomalin's research is outstanding and the presentation of her subject remarkably fair-minded, even to the amiably, but disastrously, weak Clarence. The lucidity of style and organisation make this a book it is impossible to lose your way in, even with 10 Fitz-Clarences with an average of two pet names apiece - and an excellent index provides a first-class road map. There is no blazing indignation, but plenty of evidence of the unthinking selfishness of princes to go with fascinating insight into character. Among the supporting cast the playwright R.B. Sheridan, whose career partly parallelled Mrs. Jordan, stands out as an ambitious 18th century Icarus whose flight and burn-out are both sad and entertaining.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an accessible and moving biography 28 Dec. 2007
I bought this book after a friend recommended it to me, when it first came out in hardback and was unable to put it down.
Claire Tomalin's prose style is so easy and approachable that one forgets the excellence of its research and scholarship.Neither too academic(as some historical biographies tend to be) nor too gossipy, she paints a sympathetic portrait of an amazing woman who held down a successful career and brought up a large and happy family.
Dorothy Jordan's story is ultimately a tragic one and yet she comes across as a woman full of spirit, strength and boundless love for those close to her.
A fantastic treasure of a book about one of Englands forgotten heroins.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Amelrode VINE VOICE
Claire Tomalin, the author of highly acclaimed biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft,
Katherine Mansfield and Jane Austen, presents the reader s with a great biography of the Dorothy Jordan and at the same with a great painting of the regency period.

Dorothea (sometimes Dorothy or Dora) Bland was properly one of the greatest comic actress the British theatre had known. She assumed the name "Mrs Jordan", because it was slightly more respectable for a married woman to be on the stage (there was no "Mr Jordan" and Dorothea Bland never married) She made her stage debut in 1777 at the age of 15 and her first Drury Lane appearance in 1785. She kept her hold on the public for nearly 30 years, mainly in comic tomboy roles.Already the mother of five children, in 1790 she became the mistress of the Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV. The relationship, which was a very happy one, produced ten children, the Fitzclarences. Seven were born after they settled in Bushy House in 1797.The King had given Bushy House to the always financially strapped Duke. Even so he needed help and Dorothea contributed to the upkeep from her own stage earnings as well as producing a further seven children.As the years went by the Duke came under pressure from the royal family to find a suitable (preferably rich) wife. The Duke ended the relationship in 1811 when he met a young heiress, although he did not find and marry Adelaide of Saxe-Meinengen until 1818. Although the Duke made a generous settlement for the support of her family, Dorothea was completely devastated by the separation. After a son-in-law ran up huge debts in her name she fled to France in 1815. She died alone, in poverty, at St. Cloud, outside Paris in 1816, and was buried there.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing and satisfying biography 19 April 2001
By A Customer
This is a skillful account of the life of an absolutely fascinating but largely forgotten historical figure. Dora Jordan was simulanously the most successful comic stage actress of her age, and the mother of 10 children by the future William IV. The book does her story justice, concentrating on her stage work and her ever increasing family.
Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written 24 Dec. 2012
By Oliver
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good well written book? Excellent research and full of sensitives to a remarkable woman,. Makes you want to read more
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a Woman! 20 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Writer is an excellent biographer and have read several of her books. As almost all of the personal papers of Dora were destroyed it must have been taken painstaking research. Considering hers and William 1V offspring added largely to the Aristocracy of today you understand why - the way Royalty treated their ex-lovers was more than unkind but he did seem to have a genuine affection for his children. Dora was a very strong woman and worked hard for all her children and for William compelling reading
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Format:Kindle Edition
Claire Tomalin has done it again by bringing to life the story of the remarkable Mrs Jordan. I had little more than scant awareness of Mrs Jordan before reading this biography; this book tells her tale from a difficult start in life, the beginnings of her career and the very high regard she was held in professionally. Mrs Jordan comes across as hard working, committed, loyal and overwhelmingly a wonderfully caring , nurturing and loving mother throughout her life. Her place in the history of the royal family and the historical context is fascinating. Mrs Jordan trusted much and was undoubtedly let down by many - this was another excellent read by (for me) the best biographer of the day.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars beautifully written, of a great actress and the shameful ...
A truly absorbing story, beautifully written, of a great actress and the shameful way she was eventually treated by the future King William 1V. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Mrs R Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautifully written. A fascinating life That period of history came vividly to life
Published 2 months ago by Isabel C Morrison
5.0 out of 5 stars but above all an instinctive love and generosity to her children and...
An extraordinary book befitting an extraordinary woman. Dorothea Bland is a woman of today, of all times, to achieve what she did driven by passion, desire, dedication, humour,... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jaromin Publishing
5.0 out of 5 stars As described, fast delivery.
Great book.
Published 6 months ago by N. Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
we think she was our great great great grandmother....
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Pity photos aren't so good on kindle might buy the book anyway
Fab and most interesting story, Pity photos aren't so good on kindle might buy the book anyway.
Shocking way to treat a breadwinner of such talent and care for her family
Published 10 months ago by Mags F
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good
I really enjoyed this book it is my type of read. Great for me and historic also I would recommend it
Published 21 months ago by Jackie Fage
3.0 out of 5 stars Mrs jordan's Profession
Partly interesting but not rivetting. Some books I read twice .This one I have not yet finished. May never do so
Published on 12 May 2013 by IngeWon
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