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Mrs. Jordan's Profession: The Actress and…
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Mrs. Jordan's Profession: The Actress and the Prince (original 1994; edition 1995)

by Claire Tomalin (Author)

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227597,597 (4.24)15
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. '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 'Riveting. 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 most haunting biography I have read this year.' Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times 'Fascinating, affecting. A compelling story and Tomalin tells it with clarity and warmth.' Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Sunday Times… (more)
Member:LizMo
Title:Mrs. Jordan's Profession: The Actress and the Prince
Authors:Claire Tomalin (Author)
Info:Knopf (1995), Edition: 1st American ed, 413 pages
Collections:Your library
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Mrs. Jordan's Profession: The Actress and the Prince by Claire Tomalin (1994)

  1. 10
    Fanny Kemble: A Reluctant Celebrity by Rebecca Jenkins (nessreader)
    nessreader: Early victorian matinee idol Kemble was a later generation of London actress than Jordan (and was born into a theatrical family) - it's interesting to see how the theatre developed across late 18th/early 19th century. The Kemble bio is less well known than the Tomalin one, but Kemble had as fascinating a life. Both great biographies and great social histories.… (more)
  2. 00
    Goddess of the Green Room by Jean Plaidy (AdonisGuilfoyle)
    AdonisGuilfoyle: Dora Jordan's story brought to life by prolific author Jean Plaidy; fact and fiction gel effectively in this 'novelisation' of a vibrant and popular actress.
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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
Dora Jordan's story is a surprisingly modern one for a woman whose life straddled the eighteen and nineteenth centuries. The child of broken family, she became a successful actress and never married, despite having children with three different men. She is most well-known for her last lover, a royal prince who later became King William IV. This biography does a good job of presenting what is known about Dora Jordan and offering educated speculation for the gaps in her life. The most frustrating part is unpacking the motivation of William when he left Dora after twenty years, but some things might never be known about this relationship. Overall, this was a great read, even if I was saddened by Dora's eventual fate. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Oct 7, 2018 |
Well written in flowing prose. Interesting punctuation. I had no inherent interest in the subject, but having read a couple of other Tomalin books I thought I could enjoy anything by her. Yet again I have been proved right.

The British paperback editions contain a 10 page afterword missing from the first edition. ( )
  Lukerik | Mar 14, 2016 |
The sad story of a woman who loved a prince, gave him children and a home and then was cast off by him. They couldn't marry because of the rules imposed on him by the king, but when they were together they would appear to have had a happy relationship. However as the pressure increased on him to form a more conventional marriage, his relationship with Dora Jordan died to be replaced by bitter recriminations and jealousy.

Dora was a well-regarded actress, she supported the prince for years and unfortunately suffered for it. She wasn't treated as she should have and she ended up being cast off, disregarded.

It's an interesting read and the author has a lot of sympathy for Dora, taking umbridge at some other commentors and being glad that she has a place now in history instead of being swept under the carpet. I found it an interesting and enjoyable read and it cast another light on the period. Should be read by readers and writers of Regency romances, to see what it was like sometimes in reality. ( )
1 vote wyvernfriend | Oct 29, 2010 |
An excellent biography of eighteenth century actress and royal mistress Dorothy 'Dora' Jordan. Claire Tomalin tells her story neatly and humorously, opening the past to the modern reader. She may be a little biased in Mrs Jordan's favour, reapportioning blame and castigating critics and biographers alike, but it is easy to understand why after reading about this wonderful woman's life.

Dora Jordan was a true survivor, taking all life threw at her with good humour and impressive dignity. The facts of her life - fourteen children to three different fathers, a career on the stage, and finally forced into exile abroad - would paint her as an atypical actress of low morals and mercenary ambitions, but the real Dora had a good heart, a true talent and a popular following. She was only let down by those she loved, and who professed to love her.

The father of her first daughter was her stage manager in Ireland, who may have raped her and was certainly guilty of blackmail; the second man in her life promised to marry her after his father died, so as to protect any possible inheritance, but never did; and her most famous 'husband', the Duke of Clarence (later King William IV) lived in domestic comfort with Dora for twenty years, a union producing 10 children, before dumping her during a midlife crisis! Dora's only failing, then, was trusting in weak and useless men to fulfill their promise to her. Twice she risked her already fragile reputation to live as a wife in name only, and both times she was badly let down. The Duke started chasing 'suitable' matches, to provide legitimate heirs to a possible future throne (he was third in line behind two brothers), and unceremoniously abandoned Dora, leaving the dirty work to his advisors (she would receive an allowance for her and the children, but only if she agreed to give up acting). Interestingly enough, descendents of this scandalous relationship today include author Adam Hart-Davis and politician David Cameron!

Like some modern celebrities, Mrs Jordan was better known for her private life than her talent on stage, but she was also a favourite and successful actress in London and throughout the provinces for over forty years. She began as a comedian, playing 'breeches' roles (one of her most popular being a character called 'Little Pickle') and singing songs. Audiences loved her for her natural charm and exuberance, and always welcomed her back to the stage, even when her age and figure should perhaps have excluded her from certain roles!

What is heartbreaking is how Dora's life ended. She should have been able to spend her final years in comfort, having supported others (including the Duke) and saved for her retirement throughout her long working life, and such a large brood must have guaranteed that she would not die alone. But she did, in exile in France, with little money and a large debt to her name (run up by her son-in-law); none of her children were present, and the Duke's only recognition of her passing was a tardy gesture to her memory commissioned many years later (a statue of Dora with two of her children, now in Buckingham Palace and afforded the recognition she long deserved and never received).

A sad ending to an entertaining and loving woman's life, told marvellously by a modern admirer. ( )
4 vote AdonisGuilfoyle | Jan 31, 2009 |
Library Journal review: "Tomalin presents a sympathetically and painstaking docubiography of Dora Jordan (1761-1816), one of the most acclaimed British comic and comi-tragedy actresses of her day, rivaled in abilty only by Mrs. Siddons. Dora's talent, industry, generosity, and loving nature formed her tragic flaw; illegitimate herself, powerlessly taken advantage of by men of higher social status, she attracted Prince William, who became Duke of Clarence, and lived with him as surrogate spouse through 20 years and ten children. Her earnings as an actress staunched his debts. He abandoned her to make a royal marriage, leaving her in poverty and illness in France, where she had fled to avoid debtors' prison for her son-in-law's debts. Upon becoming King William IV in 1830, one of his first acts was to commission a statue of her. Of interest to theater history, women's studies, and culture studies."
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  kristian_m | Aug 7, 2006 |
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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. '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 'Riveting. 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 most haunting biography I have read this year.' Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times 'Fascinating, affecting. A compelling story and Tomalin tells it with clarity and warmth.' Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Sunday Times

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Penguin Australia

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