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on 10 October 2013
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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on 24 March 2015
very good
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