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Nell Gwyn

Gwyn or Gwynn, Nell (Eleanor Gwyn), 1650–87, English actress. Once an orange-seller at the Theatre Royal, she became a member of Killigrew's company, making her debut there in 1665. Her charm and vivacity in comic roles endeared her to the public, as did her witty renditions of prologues and epilogues. She became the mistress of Charles II (1669) and bore him two sons, one of whom was created the duke of St. Albans. Her portrait was painted by Sir John Lely; she is the subject of several plays including Sweet Nell of Old Drury, by Paul Kester.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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