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`Charles Beauclerk brings to this book on his ancestress a rich and deep knowledge of the period conveyed in warm, unstuffy and amusing style' Daily Mail `Succeeds in capturing Nell Gwyn's vivacity, originality and essential sweetness' – The Guardian 'Beauclerk tells Nell's story with obvious relish... a biography that feels like a good long gossip' – The Mail on Sunday `Charles Beauclerk brings to this book on his ancestress a rich and deep knowledge of the period conveyed in warm, unstuffy and amusing style' Daily Mail `Succeeds in capturing Nell Gwyn's vivacity, originality and essential sweetness' – The Guardian 'Beauclerk tells Nell's story with obvious relish... a biography that feels like a good long gossip' – The Mail on Sunday `Revealing and entertaining.' The Literary Review 'Beauclerk paints a lively and detailed picture of Restoration London... very enjoyable.' - The Independent "Mr. Beauclerk writes of a time when, if it was good to be a king, it was good to be his mistress too. He does not fashionably cut his characters down to modem size—and is himself directly descended from the union of Charles II and Nell Gwyn, of which he writes with such humor, spirit, and erudition." - FAY WELDON "Shining beauty and dazzling wit brought orange-seller Nell Gwyn to the attention of Charles II. For seventeen years, as lovers and loyal friends, the two shared the pleasures of the bed and the play, of falconry, fishing, and walking in the woods at night. Charles Beauclerk has the blood of Nell and Charles in his veins, and, through his easy, erudite pen, Restoration England comes alive. A book to be savored, slowly." - GILLIAN GILL, AUTHOR OF NIGHTINGALES: THE EXTRAORDINARY UPBRINGING AND CURIOUS LIFE OF MISS FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE "As well as being a cracking good read, this is both a scholarly, sympathetic, mature, and thought-provoking biography of our finest folk heroine and a well-rounded portrait of Restoration England." - HUGH MASSINGBERD, THE SPECTATOR "Charles Beauclerk's grasp of Restoration literature and culture is impressive and there is nothing he doesn't know about the politics. . . . Nell Gwyn has about it a humanity, empathy, and freshness of which his subject would undoubtedly approve." - FRANCES WILSON, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH "Charles Beauclerk interweaves the development of Nell's character with a vivid portrayal of the social worlds of court and stage, in which she played such a memorable part. In spite of his obvious affection for his ancestress, he provides a well-rounded view of her character and an objective account of the role she played as a woman who crossed the social boundaries and created an unforgettable, romantic comedy in her life as well as in her art." - BETKA ZAMOYSKA, THE LITERARY REVIEW "Beauclerk tells Nell's story with obvious relish. He is particularly good on the odd mind-set of Stuart England." - KATHRYN HUGHES, THE MAIL ON SUNDAY Beautiful, quick-witted and sexually magnetic, Nell Gwyn remains one of England's great folk-heroines. The story of her exceptional rise from an impoverished, abusive childhood, to the wealth and connections that came with being Charles II's mistress is a dramatic mix of lust, money, high politics and love. Famously spotted selling oranges in the Theatre Royal, Drury Line, Nell's wit and charm brought her to the attention of one of the theatre's leading actors. Under his patronage, she soon established herself as the greatest comedienne of her day, and so caught the eye of Charles II, the newly restored 'merry monarch' of a nation in hedonistic reaction to puritan rule. Their seventeen-year affair is one of the great love stories of our history, played out against a backdrop of fire, plague, court intrigue and political turmoil. This vivid, personal portrayal brilliantly recreates the licentious, yet politically charged atmosphere of Charles II's court and casts fresh light on the real Nell Gwyn, on Charles and on the restoration period.


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`Charles Beauclerk brings to this book on his ancestress a rich and deep knowledge of the period conveyed in warm, unstuffy and amusing style' Daily Mail `Succeeds in capturing Nell Gwyn's vivacity, originality and essential sweetness' – The Guardian 'Beauclerk tells Nell's story with obvious relish... a biography that feels like a good long gossip' – The Mail on Sunday `Charles Beauclerk brings to this book on his ancestress a rich and deep knowledge of the period conveyed in warm, unstuffy and amusing style' Daily Mail `Succeeds in capturing Nell Gwyn's vivacity, originality and essential sweetness' – The Guardian 'Beauclerk tells Nell's story with obvious relish... a biography that feels like a good long gossip' – The Mail on Sunday `Revealing and entertaining.' The Literary Review 'Beauclerk paints a lively and detailed picture of Restoration London... very enjoyable.' - The Independent "Mr. Beauclerk writes of a time when, if it was good to be a king, it was good to be his mistress too. He does not fashionably cut his characters down to modem size—and is himself directly descended from the union of Charles II and Nell Gwyn, of which he writes with such humor, spirit, and erudition." - FAY WELDON "Shining beauty and dazzling wit brought orange-seller Nell Gwyn to the attention of Charles II. For seventeen years, as lovers and loyal friends, the two shared the pleasures of the bed and the play, of falconry, fishing, and walking in the woods at night. Charles Beauclerk has the blood of Nell and Charles in his veins, and, through his easy, erudite pen, Restoration England comes alive. A book to be savored, slowly." - GILLIAN GILL, AUTHOR OF NIGHTINGALES: THE EXTRAORDINARY UPBRINGING AND CURIOUS LIFE OF MISS FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE "As well as being a cracking good read, this is both a scholarly, sympathetic, mature, and thought-provoking biography of our finest folk heroine and a well-rounded portrait of Restoration England." - HUGH MASSINGBERD, THE SPECTATOR "Charles Beauclerk's grasp of Restoration literature and culture is impressive and there is nothing he doesn't know about the politics. . . . Nell Gwyn has about it a humanity, empathy, and freshness of which his subject would undoubtedly approve." - FRANCES WILSON, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH "Charles Beauclerk interweaves the development of Nell's character with a vivid portrayal of the social worlds of court and stage, in which she played such a memorable part. In spite of his obvious affection for his ancestress, he provides a well-rounded view of her character and an objective account of the role she played as a woman who crossed the social boundaries and created an unforgettable, romantic comedy in her life as well as in her art." - BETKA ZAMOYSKA, THE LITERARY REVIEW "Beauclerk tells Nell's story with obvious relish. He is particularly good on the odd mind-set of Stuart England." - KATHRYN HUGHES, THE MAIL ON SUNDAY Beautiful, quick-witted and sexually magnetic, Nell Gwyn remains one of England's great folk-heroines. The story of her exceptional rise from an impoverished, abusive childhood, to the wealth and connections that came with being Charles II's mistress is a dramatic mix of lust, money, high politics and love. Famously spotted selling oranges in the Theatre Royal, Drury Line, Nell's wit and charm brought her to the attention of one of the theatre's leading actors. Under his patronage, she soon established herself as the greatest comedienne of her day, and so caught the eye of Charles II, the newly restored 'merry monarch' of a nation in hedonistic reaction to puritan rule. Their seventeen-year affair is one of the great love stories of our history, played out against a backdrop of fire, plague, court intrigue and political turmoil. This vivid, personal portrayal brilliantly recreates the licentious, yet politically charged atmosphere of Charles II's court and casts fresh light on the real Nell Gwyn, on Charles and on the restoration period.

30 review for Nell Gwyn: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    I've been prone to reading about the Tudors so the Stuarts and the merry merry life of Charles II was new to me when I read this over 5 years ago. I'm revisiting it now that I'm reading Exit the Actress, a fictional take on her life. Author, Charles Beauclerk is a descendant of Gwyn. This biography piqued my interest in the Stuarts and since that time I've read more about this period. Beauclerk notes that 15 biographies have been written about Gwyn. Not having read any of them, I don't know how th I've been prone to reading about the Tudors so the Stuarts and the merry merry life of Charles II was new to me when I read this over 5 years ago. I'm revisiting it now that I'm reading Exit the Actress, a fictional take on her life. Author, Charles Beauclerk is a descendant of Gwyn. This biography piqued my interest in the Stuarts and since that time I've read more about this period. Beauclerk notes that 15 biographies have been written about Gwyn. Not having read any of them, I don't know how the others, but this biography reflects the author's broad knowledge of Restoration theater and poetry. He depicts the strange sort of liberation that followed Cromwell. He describes the changing role of women who now had a crack at few careers besides prostitution such as: orange vending, acting, play-writing, and, well, courtesan-ship. The author is disciplined and sticks with his subject. He gives enough background in Restoration politics so that the reader can understand Gwyn's (precarious) position. Gwyn's success in her short life was certainly made possible by the times in which she lived. The King's early life required every day socializing with commoners. Without this, his life and court might have been more like any other royal; He would have had fewer out of wedlock children, and would not have publically acknowledged them. Gwyn would have had absolutely NO access to the king were Charles' succession linear. Gwyn must have been a real card. I'm trying to think of a contemporary equivalent, and cannot. The description of the bed she had carved (and the cost of it) really takes the cake! It's hard to imagine her lack of pretense in the world in which she moved. The final chapter on her many descendants from her one surviving son is interesting. There were too many to keep track of but the general discussion is heavy with the weight of the British class system. That Beauclerk has written of his foremother, not of his forefather, is a sign of our times. It has been all too frequent for children to "reach up" to the male for prestige, career and/or status, as Beauclerk notes that the Duke of Monmouth does. This is often accompanied by ignoring or insulting the mother and what she brings to the match. Beauclerk does not minimize his royal line of which he could very well boast (I'm a descendant of a king!) He celebrates the intelligence talent, wit and adventuresome spirit that is part of his matrilineal side. After reading the book I checked Wikipedia and learned that Princess Diana is a direct descendant of both Barbara Palmer AND Louise de Keroualle and Charles II, and that Camilla Parker Bowles is a descendant of Louise de Keroualle and Charles II!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    My favorite historical stories always seem to focus on the royal mistresses, and Nell Gwynn holds a particularly special place in my heart. She has the distinction of being born into absolute poverty (her mom owned a brothel, which Nell may or may not have worked in when she got older), and unlike many other women who slept their way to power (*coughAnneBoleyncough*), she was smart, funny, good-natured, and generally a pretty cool person. She was the mistress of King Charles II, who met her at t My favorite historical stories always seem to focus on the royal mistresses, and Nell Gwynn holds a particularly special place in my heart. She has the distinction of being born into absolute poverty (her mom owned a brothel, which Nell may or may not have worked in when she got older), and unlike many other women who slept their way to power (*coughAnneBoleyncough*), she was smart, funny, good-natured, and generally a pretty cool person. She was the mistress of King Charles II, who met her at the theatre where Nell worked, first as an orange seller and then as an actress. Nell's main rival was the king's other mistress, the French Louise de Keroualle. Lucky for Nell, the British people loved her and hated Louise. My favorite story about Nell was the time when Louise decided to have her driver take her past Nell's house in the pimped out new carriage the king had bought for her, so Louise could put Nell in her place. Nell responded by hitching a mule to a wooden cart, which she then drove past Louise's house yelling, "Whores to market, ho!" That's another thing I like about her - Nell understood perfectly that she was nothing more than an expensive prostitute, and she never pretended to be anything else. So, now that I've fangirled enough, let's talk about the actual book. It's very detailed and informative, and if you want to learn more about Nell this is a good place to start. However. Charles Beauclark is a direct descendant of Nell Gwynn, a fact that he informs us of at least fifty times during the book. He can hardly be considered an impartial biographer, and at several times gets downright misty-eyed when he's speculating on Nell's life. (Yes, Charles, it's possible that Nell and her childhood friends played kings and queens in a dirty alleyway, with her little friends shouting "long live queen Nell!" but can we move on, please?) Beauclark even ends the book talking, not about Nell, but about his own grandson, who Beauclark thinks "shows that the spirit of Nell Gywnn is alive and well" or some crap like that. In essence - this is probably the best nonfiction Nell Gwynn book out there, because unfortunately not many people have written about her. But if anyone finds a better one, please let me know.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    If I'd realized this was written by a descendant, I don't think I would have bothered to pick it up. Oh, the story is pretty fascinating--Nell was clearly an amazing woman. She started as the guttersnipe daughter of a drunkard, turned herself into one of the most acclaimed comedians in theater in an area where women had only just been allowed on the stage in the first place, and wound up mistress to the king of England. Plenty of people could have landed in his bed--plenty did--but despite her la If I'd realized this was written by a descendant, I don't think I would have bothered to pick it up. Oh, the story is pretty fascinating--Nell was clearly an amazing woman. She started as the guttersnipe daughter of a drunkard, turned herself into one of the most acclaimed comedians in theater in an area where women had only just been allowed on the stage in the first place, and wound up mistress to the king of England. Plenty of people could have landed in his bed--plenty did--but despite her lack of title or noble upbringing, she managed to keep his interest for the rest of his life, bearing him sons and holding her own against other, far more wealthy and powerful, mistresses. Meanwhile, her King, whose father had been overthrown and executed, wrangles the incredibly complicated politics brought about by the aftermath of the Civil War, the tensions between Protestants and Catholics, the constant interference from the King of France, and his own lack of legitimate heirs and overabundance of illegitimate ones. But Beauclerk is so enamored of his subject that, despite the fact that he's a trained historian, I find myself doubting his spin on everything. There is far too much conjecture here. Far too much wildly over-purpled prose. Sweet Nell can literally do no wrong in his eyes, and it rapidly becomes grating and a little ludicrous. Add a muddled timeline, and I find myself concerned about keeping track of what actually happened in this time period. Oh, and skip the last chapter. It's a description of the lives and fates of Nell's entire subsequent family line, up to and including the author's own son. Because clearly people who wanted to learn more about the Restoration and Charles II's affair actually care about some random duke's marriage beneath him in the 1800s. It unfortunately lays clear the fact that this book, no matter how painstaking the research, is ultimately less historical analysis and more a vanity project.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Orsolya

    Nell Gwyn (Gwynne) is truly a hero of mine. A true rags to riches, Cinderella-esque hero; she went from the pits to the highest of royal echelons: a King's main mistress. Yet, she wasn't ambitious and merely wanted the security for herself and her sister Rose which they never felt from their drunken mother and fatherless home. Agressively in love with the King and protective of her children thus conceived; Nell is a strong female which more than telling resolve. Charles Beauclerk is a descendent Nell Gwyn (Gwynne) is truly a hero of mine. A true rags to riches, Cinderella-esque hero; she went from the pits to the highest of royal echelons: a King's main mistress. Yet, she wasn't ambitious and merely wanted the security for herself and her sister Rose which they never felt from their drunken mother and fatherless home. Agressively in love with the King and protective of her children thus conceived; Nell is a strong female which more than telling resolve. Charles Beauclerk is a descendent of Gwyn (Beauclerk was the last name that King Charles II gave one their eldest bastard child versus the standard Fitz- last name) and thus the reader should expect some bias toward the creater of his house. Sadly though, this work consists more an overall look into the world of the theatre from which Nell rose as an orange girl and into the comings and goings of Charles's court. I would have liked a more detailed look into Nell which shockingly I have recived better from historical fiction books over this historical bio. In fact, much of Beauclerk's "research" came off more as speculation and his own interpretation and is even noted as such on some pages. A good introduction into the world of Nell if you have never stepped foot into it before, but can be skipped if you have already read several others.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I have to rate this non-fiction book a 5 star even though some parts of it were soooo drrrrrry. Written by a direct descendant of Nell Gwyn and King Charles II, the parts of the book that were strictly about Nell were awesome. When the author got into to much detail about Nell's days as an actress and onto some of the other people in her life, it was boring. An amazing women who managed to capture the heart of an amazing King. Having 12 illegitimate children by various mistress', that wasn't eas I have to rate this non-fiction book a 5 star even though some parts of it were soooo drrrrrry. Written by a direct descendant of Nell Gwyn and King Charles II, the parts of the book that were strictly about Nell were awesome. When the author got into to much detail about Nell's days as an actress and onto some of the other people in her life, it was boring. An amazing women who managed to capture the heart of an amazing King. Having 12 illegitimate children by various mistress', that wasn't easy to do! A true rag to riches story for a clever woman who only lived to be 37 years old, dying in 1687.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I was really interested in this book after I heard the author talk on NPR about his ancestor and finally managed to get it when I was reading biographies of queens (and mistresses). Nell makes for an interesting read. Beauclerk's writing is not as strong as many biographies, but it is clear he respects what Nell accomplished and is proud to have her as a forebearer. I was really interested in this book after I heard the author talk on NPR about his ancestor and finally managed to get it when I was reading biographies of queens (and mistresses). Nell makes for an interesting read. Beauclerk's writing is not as strong as many biographies, but it is clear he respects what Nell accomplished and is proud to have her as a forebearer.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark Gaulding

    What a bawdy and fun biography this was. Charles II was really quite a grand king. He had many maitresse-en-titres, but Nell Gwynn was his favorite. Interesting story, written from the perspective of Ms. Gwynn's descendants. What a bawdy and fun biography this was. Charles II was really quite a grand king. He had many maitresse-en-titres, but Nell Gwynn was his favorite. Interesting story, written from the perspective of Ms. Gwynn's descendants.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    I read this for the TNBBC Spring Challenge, the task was to read a non-fiction book of at least 400 pages relating in some way to the British Monarchy, past or present. I decided to stay away from the Tudors, since I’ve read so much about them and ended up finding this book. I thought I would really enjoy this book about Nell Gwyn, her relationship with Charles II and her life. There were definitely parts that I really enjoyed, but overall I found it overly wordy and long-winded. Beauclerk, who i I read this for the TNBBC Spring Challenge, the task was to read a non-fiction book of at least 400 pages relating in some way to the British Monarchy, past or present. I decided to stay away from the Tudors, since I’ve read so much about them and ended up finding this book. I thought I would really enjoy this book about Nell Gwyn, her relationship with Charles II and her life. There were definitely parts that I really enjoyed, but overall I found it overly wordy and long-winded. Beauclerk, who is a direct descendent of Nell’s, seemed to go off on tangents that didn’t have anything to do with Nell. I mean, I understand that some asides into the politics of the period and the workings of the theater are important, but I felt there were great chunks of the book that I could have done without. It just seemed to go on and on! However, I did enjoy the book when Beauclerk was actually focusing only on Nell and her life. The descriptions of her early life in the theater and her small beginnings as an Orange Girl were very interesting and painted a scene I could actually see. I also really enjoyed the 10th chapter, A Chargeable Lady that had detailed Nell’s extravagant life, the crazy amounts of shoes and gloves she ordered for herself and her sons, the huge silver bed she had created specifically for her and the large amounts food and alcohol she ordered for parties, that was really interesting to read. I thought it gave you a taste of how the wealthy really lived in the late 1600s. I also thought Charles II was such an interesting person. He definitely pushed the boundaries for normal kings, going into private houses for dinners and parties and laughing off anything overly fussy. Also, who doesn’t love the fairytale rags-to-riches stories? That Nell started out selling oranges at the theater and eventually became a lover and, I believe, a great friend to the King. It’s pretty amazing that she was able to do that, evidently, staying pretty true to who she was. It seems like she was a quite a character, very clever and very funny. This was definitely a step out of the norm for me, which is why this challenge has been so fun. It was an interesting read and I think people who love history would get a kick out of this.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rai

    While I learned a great deal about Nell Gwyn, Charles II and life in Stuart England whilst reading this book, I also learnt another, more important lesson: don't read biographies of historical figures written by their descendants. According to Charles Beauclerk, Nell Gwyn never put a foot wrong in her entire life, everything she ever did or said was perfect, including apparently her bullying of the Duchess of Porthsmouth, Louise de Kérouaille. I know that through her life Nell was a 'joker' and While I learned a great deal about Nell Gwyn, Charles II and life in Stuart England whilst reading this book, I also learnt another, more important lesson: don't read biographies of historical figures written by their descendants. According to Charles Beauclerk, Nell Gwyn never put a foot wrong in her entire life, everything she ever did or said was perfect, including apparently her bullying of the Duchess of Porthsmouth, Louise de Kérouaille. I know that through her life Nell was a 'joker' and Louise her greatest rival, maybe I just have delicate sensibilities when it comes to that sort of stuff, but I honestly see Nell's treatment of the Duchess as plain, old-fashioned bullying. It wasn't funny, it wasn't smart and witty, it was mean. But not according to Beauclerk; he just portrays Nell as if she was the funniest person to ever grace the planet. It is an extraordinarily biased viewpoint of the woman's life. That said, I did come out of this with great respect for Nell Gwyn. She took whatever horrible things life threw at her in her stride and made the best of every circumstance, with the result that she became one of the most well-loved and respected women in England and secured noble backgrounds for all of her descendants. She was an incredible woman and lived an incredible life. This biography, slow to start with the history of English theatre recounted in the first five chapters, is incredibly well-written. Beauclerk, when you take away his biased viewpoint, is a great biographer. We're given intricate detail of Nell's life, all well sourced and noted but it's never dry or dull. Instead Beauclerk manages to make it read like a novel and for chapters I honestly forgot I was reading non-fiction. The only thing I would say to Beauclerk is, get rid of that boring epilogue; no one wants to read about your entire family's history. It also comes across as incredibly whiny. 'Oh we're nobility but we've no money! Seriously man, get rid of it, nobody cares. 4 / 5

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Like this book written by one of her descendants. Would have liked a lot more "in-depth" biography but I guess since it's the 1600's there is only so much info one can find. Always love historical biographies though. Like this book written by one of her descendants. Would have liked a lot more "in-depth" biography but I guess since it's the 1600's there is only so much info one can find. Always love historical biographies though.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Bit of a slog at first, but once you realized where the author was going with the whole 'life as theater', it became easier. Interesting story Bit of a slog at first, but once you realized where the author was going with the whole 'life as theater', it became easier. Interesting story

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richard Seltzer

    Read as research for my novel Parallel Lives.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    Nell Gwyne Highly disappointing. Yes, this is the story of a mistress to a King, that much is clear. And it is written by a direct descendent of said mistress and the King. So I find it very odd and uncomfortable that the author puts so much emphasis on how Nell was a ‘whore’. You can hardly go through three pages without seeing the word in referral to Nell. A bit is understandable but he really does seem to fixate on this word concerning his ancestor and it is more than a little creepy. As well, s Nell Gwyne Highly disappointing. Yes, this is the story of a mistress to a King, that much is clear. And it is written by a direct descendent of said mistress and the King. So I find it very odd and uncomfortable that the author puts so much emphasis on how Nell was a ‘whore’. You can hardly go through three pages without seeing the word in referral to Nell. A bit is understandable but he really does seem to fixate on this word concerning his ancestor and it is more than a little creepy. As well, some better organization would have aided this book quite a bit. Some of the chapters are too long and too sporadic and seem to go off of topic. Some paragraphs should also be shifted around, particularly in the epilogue because a death will be mentioned then a couple of paragraphs later, it will go into the life of that person and leads to confusion as to who we are reading about and why it matters. All in all, I didn’t learn much. There’s a lot of talk about how the two were in love with one another and how it seemed to be true but it is difficult to actually feel that. It seemed like this was a book for the author to showcase his famous connections. A brag, of sorts. 3/10. Would not recommend.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Written by one of Nell's descendants, this book is very interesting: The Court of King Charles II and his mistresses. When Cromwell's Parliament beheaded King Charles I, his son went into hiding on the Continent. When he returned to England, he did not trust anyone. The people were overjoyed by the restoration. Theaters were reopened. Enter Nell Gwyn, supposedly fathered by a member of the Royalist military upon a company bawd, she uses his name. Nell lives in poverty. Her mother is a prostitute, Written by one of Nell's descendants, this book is very interesting: The Court of King Charles II and his mistresses. When Cromwell's Parliament beheaded King Charles I, his son went into hiding on the Continent. When he returned to England, he did not trust anyone. The people were overjoyed by the restoration. Theaters were reopened. Enter Nell Gwyn, supposedly fathered by a member of the Royalist military upon a company bawd, she uses his name. Nell lives in poverty. Her mother is a prostitute, and works with other prostitutes to form bawdy houses. Nell and her sister, Rose, act as servers to the clients. Nell sells oysters, among other items, on the streets of London. She becomes an orange-girl, selling oranges to the gallants who come to the theater. Because of her background, Nell has a quick wit with the gallants. One of the leaders of the theater sees and hears her, deciding Nell should be on the stage. Nell is a success. King Charles II sees Nell on stage; she ends up in his bed. She also becomes a true friend to the king. This is a very interesting book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Found this in Istanbul airport departures lounge, where I had about 16 hours to kill. It got me through the night and then I insisted on finishing it because I hate leaving books unfinished. It took me a while though! Interesting to learn about Restoration England - I'm surprised that few films, dramas and historical fictions have been set in this period as it sounds like a lot of fun and as though a huge creative flowering was going on. Interesting to learn about Charles II, but as other review Found this in Istanbul airport departures lounge, where I had about 16 hours to kill. It got me through the night and then I insisted on finishing it because I hate leaving books unfinished. It took me a while though! Interesting to learn about Restoration England - I'm surprised that few films, dramas and historical fictions have been set in this period as it sounds like a lot of fun and as though a huge creative flowering was going on. Interesting to learn about Charles II, but as other reviewers have noted, the account was ridiculously biased towards Nell and the political surroundings and those of court were difficult to follow. It didn't quite come to life for me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kukwa

    Epic & addictive, with the added frisson of being written by a direct descendant of Nell Gwyn & Charles II. This is the ultimate, real life rags-to-riches soap opera, but with a much bigger, kinder, gentler heart than anyone might have expected. Not only does it tell the story of one of the most famous mistresses in English history, but sheds enormous new light on the kind of monarch -- and the kind of man -- Charles II was, and aspired to be. The final chapter, tracing the family line, is beyon Epic & addictive, with the added frisson of being written by a direct descendant of Nell Gwyn & Charles II. This is the ultimate, real life rags-to-riches soap opera, but with a much bigger, kinder, gentler heart than anyone might have expected. Not only does it tell the story of one of the most famous mistresses in English history, but sheds enormous new light on the kind of monarch -- and the kind of man -- Charles II was, and aspired to be. The final chapter, tracing the family line, is beyond fascinating.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    A really interesting look at the role of mistresses in the English court. These women lived and died at the behest of a man who had the right to cast them off without any warning. To see how they attempted to stay relevant and protect their children (the offspring of the monarchs) futures is very interesting. The book could have been a little shorter but all in all was a fascinating historical read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Giselle

    Pretty, witty Nell The lofe of Nell Gwyn is one of the great real-life rags-to-riches stories. This biography takes you daintily by the hand and pulls you into the whirlwind dance that was Restoration England.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sara Giacalone

    This was an interesting and informative read and continues my interest in all things Restoration era.

  20. 5 out of 5

    BrianMay

    This book learns, and it¨s fantastic. I like it!!!.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    A hilariously hagiographic biography of Nell Gwyn (and to some extent Charles II) by one of their descendants, Charles Beauclerk. Nell Gwyn is famously the lowborn "Protestant whore" of Charles II, one of his favorite and most long-lasting mistresses. This book traces her life insofar as we can know it, from an argument as to her birthplace to her death in 1687. Beauclerk even (somewhat reluctantly) dispels the myth that Nell had a cockney accent, though she was certainly born to poverty. The bo A hilariously hagiographic biography of Nell Gwyn (and to some extent Charles II) by one of their descendants, Charles Beauclerk. Nell Gwyn is famously the lowborn "Protestant whore" of Charles II, one of his favorite and most long-lasting mistresses. This book traces her life insofar as we can know it, from an argument as to her birthplace to her death in 1687. Beauclerk even (somewhat reluctantly) dispels the myth that Nell had a cockney accent, though she was certainly born to poverty. The book is very informative, very readable, and all in all a good account of Nell Gwyn. That said, by all accounts, Nell was a bouncy, bright, and funny person. She and Charles certainly liked each other very much, though they may not have been in love, and he enjoyed her company and their children as much as anyone. But she certainly had her faults, which are either glossed over or seriously downplayed in this book. The author treats her like a saint, which she very much was not. Then there's the epilogue, which traces the descent of the Dukes of St. Albans from Nell and Charles down to the author, and friend, it is not worth your time. Beauclerk keeps trying to link personality traits of the dukes to the personality traits of Nell and Charles and it isn't worth it. So, would I recommend it? Absolutely! Just keep in mind that the author is not an impartial biographer at all, and skip the epilogue.

  22. 5 out of 5

    JEFFREY A NEWCOMB

    This book is engagingly written - reading more enjoyable than a novel. It was exhaustively researched so as to present not only a deep picture of Nell's personality, intellect, and talents, but a full portrait of the woman, showing how it was that she was able to keep the love and loyalty of that most fickle of kings until both their deaths. Also explained is the culture and politics of the Restauration, and a comp!eate and fascinating description of life in that most astounding of courts, and t This book is engagingly written - reading more enjoyable than a novel. It was exhaustively researched so as to present not only a deep picture of Nell's personality, intellect, and talents, but a full portrait of the woman, showing how it was that she was able to keep the love and loyalty of that most fickle of kings until both their deaths. Also explained is the culture and politics of the Restauration, and a comp!eate and fascinating description of life in that most astounding of courts, and the characters who created and lived it. Fabulous book. This book is engagingly written - reading more enjoyable than a novel. It was exhaustively researched so as to present not only a deep picture of Nell's personality, intellect, and talents, but a full portrait of the woman, showing how it was that she was able to keep the love and loyalty of that most fickle of kings until both their deaths. Also explained is the culture and politics of the Restauration, and a comp!eate and fascinating description of life in that most astounding of courts, and the characters who created and lived it. Fabulous book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Godlarvae

    ANOTHER OF THE "NEW" (TO ME) HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS THAT PUT FLESH ON THE BONES OF FIGURES PASSED ON. READING ABOUT A PERSON, SQUARELY INSERTED INTO THEIR PARTICULAR TIME PERIOD, WITH ALL THE ATTENDING SURROUNDING POLITICAL, CULTURAL, AND ETHICAL STIMULI/CONTRIBUTIONS GIVES LIFE TO THESE FOLKS. WRITTEN BY A "WAAAY DOWN THE LINE" DESCENDANT, I WAS PLEASED WITH THE DETAIL GIVEN--WARTS AND ALL. THERE ARE THOSE WHO WOULDN'T READ IT BECAUSE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BUT IT SEEMS TO ME THAT 400 YEARS PROVIDES A ANOTHER OF THE "NEW" (TO ME) HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS THAT PUT FLESH ON THE BONES OF FIGURES PASSED ON. READING ABOUT A PERSON, SQUARELY INSERTED INTO THEIR PARTICULAR TIME PERIOD, WITH ALL THE ATTENDING SURROUNDING POLITICAL, CULTURAL, AND ETHICAL STIMULI/CONTRIBUTIONS GIVES LIFE TO THESE FOLKS. WRITTEN BY A "WAAAY DOWN THE LINE" DESCENDANT, I WAS PLEASED WITH THE DETAIL GIVEN--WARTS AND ALL. THERE ARE THOSE WHO WOULDN'T READ IT BECAUSE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BUT IT SEEMS TO ME THAT 400 YEARS PROVIDES AN APPROPRIATE BUFFER TO ANY FAMILIAL SKEWING. (AFTER ALL, SHOW ME A PURELY "FACTUAL", "OBJECTIVE" BOOK AND I WILL SHOW YOU A LIE.) KUDOS TO NELL, HER SPIRIT OF ACCEPTANCE, HER APPROACH TO LIFE, HER FAITHFULNESS, HER CHARITY, AND PROBABLY MOST IMPORTANTLY, HER GENUINENESS.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adam Windsor

    A readable biography of Charles II's common-born mistress that is somewhat undermined by (a) the paucity of records about certain periods of Nell Gwyn's life and (b) the author's weakness for filling these gaps with conjecture or stories about people that Nell knew. Still, as long as you pay attention to what's actually reliably sourced, and don't mind diversions about Nell's contemporaries, it's a decent read. A readable biography of Charles II's common-born mistress that is somewhat undermined by (a) the paucity of records about certain periods of Nell Gwyn's life and (b) the author's weakness for filling these gaps with conjecture or stories about people that Nell knew. Still, as long as you pay attention to what's actually reliably sourced, and don't mind diversions about Nell's contemporaries, it's a decent read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    MRS V JOHNSON

    Yes well really! How good to be able to see so far back! A good read, mostly of a vivid, colourful and lascivious time which mostly held my complete attention. Respect to the St.Albans inheritance

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan Wands

    This is a good read but a little too taken up with his ancestor's goodness - I would have liked to hear him settle up why she cost the Crown so much money in terms of her upkeep. This is a good read but a little too taken up with his ancestor's goodness - I would have liked to hear him settle up why she cost the Crown so much money in terms of her upkeep.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Liza

    Rags to riches true story. Nell became the King's mistress after leaving the life of a prostitue and actress in 17th century England. She remained the King's favorite until his death. Rags to riches true story. Nell became the King's mistress after leaving the life of a prostitue and actress in 17th century England. She remained the King's favorite until his death.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/11484888 I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/11484888

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katja Siefke

    a bit boring at times.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laura-Leigh

    I enjoy the book and had been curious about the woman since she is mentioned in Huck Finn.

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