Favorite ladies from history ⇨ Nell Gwyn
Claim to fame: Mistress to Charles II, A++ orange peddler, comedic actress extraordinaire, and my second favorite person on this list.
Why she’s on the list: Oh, my sweet Nelly, I love so much about the things you choose to be. In all honesty, Nell Gwyn holds a very special place in my heart (outranked only by Anne B.), so it’s difficult for me to put my affection for her into words. I suppose it all boils down to the fact that I never think of her as a woman who has been dead for over 300 years. She was just so incredibly vibrant and colorful and alive, and that’s why she’s my Queen.
Appearance: Reddish-brown hair, hazel eyes, and (rumor has it) great legs
Personality traits: Generous, spunky, quick-witted, and TOTALLY HILARIOUS.
Required reading: I really didn’t care for Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King, so I’m going to throw a curveball out there and recommend some historical fiction that manages to capture some of Nell’s legendary appeal: Exit the Actress by Priya Parmar.
Notable quotable: On being mistaken for the Catholic Duchess of Portsmouth: “Good people, you are mistaken; I am the Protestant whore.”
Oooh, I’ll have to check out Exit the Actress! I do quite like Derek Parker’s 2002 biography. (And my favorite screen Nell has to be Zoe Tapper in Stage Beauty, even though she’s a supporting character in it.)