ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Nell Gwynne

Updated on August 15, 2010

Nell Gwynne as "Cupid"

 Nell Gwynne (1650-1687) was born in The Coal Yard, off Drury Lane, in London, England.  Nell got off to a rough start in life.  He father was a soldier who was ruined by the English Civil War, when the Roundheads with Thomas Cromwell established a Puritan protectorate, deposed King Charles I, and lopped off his head.

Nell's mother drowned in a pond at Chelsea, while inebriated.

Nell sold oranges near the theater in Drury Lane, until she became an actress at the age of 15.  She quickly became popular in comic parts.  Samuel Pepys writes in his diary:

So great a performance in a comical part was never done in the world cannot be better done in nature...

Nell excelled at the delivery of spicy, witty prologues and epilogues.  Part of her success was due to the patronage of John Dryden, who wrote parts especially for her.   She remained a member of the Drury Lane Company, performing many comic roles to the delight of packed houses in John Dryden's theater.


It was as the mistress of King Charles II from 1670 until his death that made Nell even more of a public favorite. The Restoration of the monarchy (back by popular demand!) was in full swing; London was experiencing a reaction from the dour, churchly, Puritan rule of the Roundheads. The party was on...

Nell's candid recklessness; her open indiscretions, her quick wit and ready smile appealed enormously to the London public. She was a true child of the London streets; she was the antithesis of Puritanism and the spirit of Restoration England.

Her rags-to-riches story made her a perennial favorite with the London people. The Nell Gwynne pub remains open to this day.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, Well Wisher. I admired Nell because she went so far with so little; and it wasn't easy for a woman to make her own way in the world. Her sense of humour was EXQUISITE! I found a LOT of Nell Gwnne stories, but didn't want to make the hub too long. One time, she and the King went out to dinner, and since the King never carried money, Nell ended up paying for the dinner. Know what she said? "I have never been in poorer company!" Bold little thing. Everyone loved her.

    • profile image

      Well Wisher 

      9 years ago

      I enjoyed your hub. It's a talent to make history interesting. I wonder if you admire Nell because she could laugh on Sundays?

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Good comment, Catherine R. You know, weirdly enough, I liked Camilla and thought she had it a bit rough. I think the reason for the public reaction against Camilla was just that everyone liked PRINCESS DI so very, very much, and they didn't want to see that fairy-tale marriage turn to dust.

      I made a correction to this hub, by the way: It isn't Reformation Enland, it's RESTORATION England. The monarchy was restored. I don't know how I came to make that mistake, and repeat it. I hope this fixes things. Sometimes I wonder if I'm losing it in my middle age!!!!

    • Catherine R profile image

      Catherine R 

      9 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      That was interesting to me because having lived in London for many years I have seen the pub and heard of Nell Gwynne and I realized that she had something to do with theatre but I didn't know that she was the mistress of Charles 11. How interesting that she was so popular (because of/despite this) - remember how unpopular Camilla Parker Bowles was in the days that she was the mistress of Prince Charles. We seem to have changed our morals a bit as a society.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oh, good comment, dohn121. Hi awsydney! Glad you both liked the hub. I'm fascinated with Reformation England, ever since that movie, the Libertine. Nell wasn't particularly beautiful, it was her character that made her such a favorite.

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I'm with the aussie! I've not known Nell until today. Thank you, Paradise7. I think that what many people just don't get is that sex and beauty is not what sells...It's fantasy that gets sold in our modern day theaters and magazine racks.

    • awsydney profile image


      9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      ok, at least I know who Nell Gwynne is now! Thanks!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)