Nell Gwyn: A Biography by Charles Beauclerk - review by Betka Zamoyska

Betka Zamoyska

The Actress, the King, and Squintabella

Nell Gwyn: A Biography



Charles II has come down in history as a swashbuckling gallant who bedded every pretty lady who caught his fancy. According to this revealing and entertaining biography, by one of Nell Gwyn’s direct descendants, there was a set of back stairs in the Palace of Whitehall used specifically for the king’s assignations with women, ‘both casual and regular’. The Page of the Royal Bedchamber, Keeper of the King’s Private Closet and Keeper of His Majesty’s Backstairs, William Chiffinch, vetted all those who came and went, and kept a register of them, while his wife acted as the king’s procuress.

Although Charles gained a reputation for being ‘the known enemy of virginity and chastity’, he was dependent on his regular mistresses for advice about the intrigues at court, and they also provided some degree of family life (he was known to have at least fourteen natural children), which his barren

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