Nell Gwyn

I have a Master's Degree in History from one of the top universities in the world.  My specialty is Restoration History 1660-1685.  I wrote my dissertation on the Earl of Rochester (played by Johnny Depp in the Libertine) and his influence on theater.  It made me feel alive.  One of Rochester's friends was the actress Nell Gwyn, best known as a mistress of king Charles II.  The Duke of St. Albans is the line which is descended from her and Charles.

There is this fascination with Nell Gwyn because she grew up poor, her mother owned an inn in London, started out as an Orange Girl selling oranges in the theater and then became one of the best comedic actresses of the age.  She caught the king's eye and became his mistress until his death.  It's kind of like a Cinderella story with dubious morals.  Nell was far more complex with that.  She was witty and a fighter.  She was treated differently from the other royal mistresses because of her low birth.   However, she was valued by the king.

I think I was Nell in a past life.  I retain quick wit when I am well.  She was also extremely loyal and generous to her friends as I am.  After the king died, she wrote a letter to James II stating that the late king was her friend.  As she could not write, her secretary wrote it for her.   I thought that was the sweetest, most honest thing that could have been written.  Her life was not without tragedy as he youngest died at the age of seven in France having been sent abroad for his education, but yet she remained strong.

The thing I always remember about Nell is her ability to make people laugh and her ability to persevere.  Once her love the king was gone, she died.  She died of a stroke technically, but many people believe that she died of a broken heart 2 years after the king died at the age of 37.  She lived her life and that's all we can hope to achieve, but her legend has endured.


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