cover image Mrs. Jordan's Profession: The Actress and the Prince

Mrs. Jordan's Profession: The Actress and the Prince

Claire Tomalin. Alfred A. Knopf, $27.5 (413pp) ISBN 978-0-679-41071-3

Acclaimed as the greatest British comic actress of her day, spirited, tough, intelligent Dora Jordan (1761-1816) scandalized polite society when she, a former Dublin milliner's assistant, shacked up with royalty. Boisterous, uncouth navy veteran Prince William, son of King George III, fell passionately in love with Jordan and settled down with her, unmarried, in a villa on the Thames provided by the royal family. The prince (who became King William IV in 1830) had 10 children with Jordan over 20 years, but ditched her in 1812 under pressure from his advisers. Tomalin, author of The Invisible Woman, a prize-winning biography of actress Nelly Ternan, Charles Dickens's secret mistress, has written a captivating, vibrant biography of a strong, self-willed woman that explores the seductive overlapping of the theatrical world and the worlds of politics, high society and royalty. Tomalin deftly unravels Jordan's long, stormy relationship with her employer, playwright/producer/politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan, her maternal devotion to her children and her tormented relations with the royal family. Illustrated. (Apr.)