08 January 2016

12th Night + 2 + shakespeare+ ms. jordan + vivien

“Be not afraid of greatness. 
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, 
and others have greatness thrust upon them.” ~Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Mrs. Jordan as Viola in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night by John Hoppner
Dorothea Jordan, starlet of the Georgian era. (1761-1816) 
As with many beautiful actresses of the day, Dora was pursued by royals, in her case Prince William, Duke of Clarence- later he was known as William IV. He became her protector in 1790 and their arrangement lasted for 20 years. In addition to the five children she had prior to her liaison of long standing with William IV, she bore him another ten. Remarkable!

“Mrs Jordan as the Comic Muse” by Hoppner, 1785. 

“Well, God give them wisdom that have it; and those that are fools, let them use their talents.” ~ Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

 "Mrs. Jordan is a very good creature, very domestic and careful of her children. To be sure she is absurd sometimes and has her humours. But there are such things more or less in all families." ~ a friend

 'Mrs Jordan', as 'Peggy' in 'The Country Girl', 1786-87

"An adventuress of uncertain virtue.” Dictionary of National Biography (1882)  

"We shall have a full and merry house this Christmas, 'tis what the dear Duke delights in." Mrs Jordan, 1809

The Duke and Dora suffered under the penned caricatures of  James Gillray, popular satirist of the day, c 1791. Dora,  said of their inevitable parting : "Money, money, my good friend, has, I am convinced made HIM at this moment the most wretched of men," adding, "With all his excellent qualities, his domestic virtues, his love for his lovely children, what must he not at this moment suffer?" She returned to the stage with lack lustre success, dying a year later it was said of a broken heart. Poor Dora. Her children's surname FitzClarence came into being-and current Prime Minister David Cameron is the product of this royal liaison. William IV had no legitimate heir and his niece the young Victoria was crowned Queen-and the rest as they say is history.

“O time, thou must untangle this, not I.
It is too hard a knot for me t'untie. 
~Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Sometimes I dread the truth of the lines I say. But the dread must never show. ~Vivien Leigh

The absolute beauty and consummate actress of the Shakespearean stage, Vivien Leigh. Her 30 year stage career saw her play Shakespeare's OpheliaCleopatraJuliet, and Lady Macbeth
(here) as Viola in Twelfth Night, 1955.

Sketch of Vivien Leigh for a portrait by Augustus John, 1940

People think that if you look fairly reasonable, you can't possibly act, and as I only care about acting, I think beauty can be a great handicap. ~Vivien Leigh

Playing opposite the love of her life, actor Laurence Olivier in Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. After their divorce and her death, Olivier watched one of her films on television, saying,"This, this was love."

“Journeys end in lovers meeting, 
Every wise man's son doth know.” 
~Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Vivien Leigh photographed by Angus McBean as Aurora, Goddess of the Dawn

"The memories I cherish most are of simple things: walking through our country garden after rain; sitting outside a café in Provence, drinking the vin de pays; staying at a little English hotel with Larry"- Vivien Leigh

I "would rather have lived a short life with Larry than face a long one without him"
Just 54 when she died, she had suffered breakdowns, serious bouts with manic depression, dying while she recovered from tuberculosis. Her companion at the time called Olivier to sit with her body where he kept vigil, "I stood and prayed for forgiveness for all the evils that had sprung up between us."

“If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.”
Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

LINKS & Sources : MFAH here, quotes from Wiki, Laurence Olivier's autobiography, and Alexander Walker's Leigh biography.


  1. Beauty beyond compare...True Love! So sad her mind was fragile to carry the weight of Legend...a burden most crushing in Life yet Golden in Death. Beautiful.

  2. Thank you so much for this post. Truly exquisite.

  3. Well, quite simply, this just made my day. I was a classically trained theatre actress (Yale School of Drama) and Viola was always my favorite role. Such beauty in the being...and certainly these two actresses shone so brightly through it!

  4. What a legendary love story, Olivier and Leigh, and what was that all about, back in the day, royalty and actresses?
    I just recently watched, again, the TV series, Lilly Langtry; wonderful, binge-watched!

  5. A heart wrenching love story, that is often the way of love though. Wondrous images Gaye!
    Her beauty and talent were extraordinary as was Olivier's. Viola's history was fascinating.

    The Arts by Karena
    Life Lessons: So Honored!



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