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Nell Gwyn Paperback – 1 Jul 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd; New edition edition (1 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750927046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750927048
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.6 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 873,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on 10 Oct 2013
Format: Hardcover
A well rounded account of the life of popular comic stage actress and mistress of Charles II, Nell Gwyn, a beautiful witty and lovable person. Nel was one of the only mistresses of a British monarch to be popular with the masses. Referred to by John Dryden (in whose plays she acted). In many ways she embodied the character of Restoration England under Charles II. Of all Charles' 13 mistresses she is the best known. This book traces the life of Nell from a possible child prostitute from a poor family who got a job selling oranges at the theatre, to a popular stage actress who captured the fascination of a king.
Though her past was one of promiscuity and possibly prostitution (in order to survive as a child) she remained faithful to only King Charles when she was his mistress).
On his deathbed Charles uttered to his brother and heir James, "Let not poor Nelly starve"
It says something of Nell's character that though she received a stipend from James II to live on, she refused his request to convert from Protestantism to Catholicism. Nell died of a stroke aged 37, but had a achieved a peerage for one of her sons. There are estimated today to be over 300 descendants of Nell Gwyn. A woman of beauty, wit and a heart of gold. The book also tells us something of the society of Restoration England, the theatre of the time as well as of Charles II's other mistresses such as Lady Barbara Castlemaine and Louise de Keroualle.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
A travesty of scholarship 1 Oct 2001
By Rochester Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This paragraph just added:
Derek Parker's so-called biography of Nell Gwyn is about as grounded in reality as his books on astrology, his major claim to fame. Forget Parker and buy Charles Beauclerk's "Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King" (2005). Beauclerk is a direct descendant of Charles II and Nell Gwyn, but more importantly he is a scholar who did his homework and invests years of research in his fascinating, eye-opening biography. He casts a fresh eye not only on Nell, but also on Charles II and Restoration London.

My original review:

I am disappointed to report that Derek Parker's "Nell Gwyn" is a travesty of scholarship. I give you three (of many) cases in point:

Chapter 2, page 14, he writes: "In exile, during the Interregnum, he [Charles II] and his friend Rochester (fn5) cut a swathe through the Continent's available women." The footnote then identifies Rochester as "John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1647-80), a close friend of Charles throughout their lives."

The Rochester who cavorted with Charles on the Continent was Henry Wilmot, the 1st Earl of Rochester, John's father, who saved Charles's life when he was forced to flee England. John wasn't even a teenager until Charles returned from France.

Chapter 4, page 74, the author writes: "Rochester himself wrote a not particularly good play, 'The Rehearsal.'"

In all other scholarly works I've read on the subject, "The Rehearsal" is attributed to George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, a member of "The Merry Gang." It is quite likely that Rochester contributed ideas, as he was wont to do for many of his playwright friends, including Dryden, but he was not the author of "The Rehearsal." Furthermore, the play was quite good, and groundbreaking, just not a classic.

Chapter 3, page 52, the author writes: "Dryden saw them [Charles Hart and Nell Gwyn] as Philidor and Mirida in 'All Mistaken,' by his brother-in-law James Howard -- a low comedy in which most of the entertainment derived from the attempts of a fat courtier, Pinguister, to court a pretty maid (Mirida, played by Nell). Hart rolled about the stage with Nell in his arms, rising occasionally to rush from the stage unbuttoning his breeches in order to deal with the consequences of a purge which someone had given him."

This is not at all what happens in "All Mistaken." Pinguister takes the purges voluntarily from his Doctor in order to lose weight so that Mirida will marry him. And, when they are rolling about on the stage, she is not in his arms, she is distant from him rolling away from him as he rolls toward her, because she has promised to marry him if he can catch her. She is making Pinguister her 6th "fool" to round out her half dozen. And he doesn't "rise occasionally" to go purge; he can't even get up without her help. When she does help him up, she takes him on in a swordfight and disarms him. It is also possible (I emphasize possible) that this performance by Nell was what captured Charles' attention and led to their affair.

It appears that, rather than read the plays Nell appeared in, the author found it more convenient to read someone else's inaccurate descriptions.

To attribute "The Rehearsal" to Rochester is inexplicable.

Not knowing the difference between Henry Wilmot and John Wilmot suggests that the author is not really familiar with the life of Charles II, and, if he's not familiar with the life of Charles II, he cannot possibly have anything worthwhile to contribute to our knowledge about the life of Nell Gwyn.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Pretty, witty Nell 24 July 2009
By Gary Selikow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A well rounded account of the life of popular comic stage actress and mistress of Charles II, Nell Gwyn, a beautiful witty and lovable person. Nel was one of the only mistresses of a British monarch to be popular with the masses. Referred to by John Dryden (in whose plays she acted). In many ways she embodied the character of Restoration England under Charles II. Of all Charles' 13 mistresses she is the best known. This book traces the life of Nell from a possible child prostitute from a poor family who got a job selling oranges at the theatre, to a popular stage actress who captured the fascination of a king.
Though her past was one of promiscuity and possibly prostitution (in order to survive as a child) she remained faithful to only King Charles when she was his mistress).
On his deathbed Charles uttered to his brother and heir James, "Let not poor Nelly starve"
It says something of Nell's character that though she received a stipend from James II to live on, she refused his request to convert from Protestantism to Catholicism. Nell died of a stroke aged 37, but had a achieved a peerage for one of her sons. There are estimated today to be over 300 descendants of Nell Gwyn. A woman of beauty, wit and a heart of gold. The book also tells us something of the society of Restoration England, the theatre of the time as well as of Charles II's other mistresses such as Lady Barbara Castlemaine and Louise de Keroualle.
Not exactly a page-turner, but interesting 7 Dec 2010
By Renee Thorpe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Until Gillian Bagwell's novel, The Darling Strumpet, hits the shelves on January 4, 2011, this has been my Nell Gwyn read. Paints a picture of Restoration London and compares Gwyn to the other mistresses of King Charles II.

Some interesting little quotes and tidbits from personal correspondence and diaries, but doesn't read like a novel. Interesting factoids about Nell's jewelry, furniture, etc.

Yeah, right. A bit dry.
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