Talk:Nell Gwyn

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Peer Review[edit]

Great work on this article so far. It's stable, well referenced, and should definately go through a peer review to help identify those details that will upgrade the article to "A". Nightngle 17:46, 24 October 2006 (UTC)


Nell Gwyn is most commonly said to have been born in Hereford (and sometimes Covent Garden). Emphasis in the article incorrectly implies Covent Garden as the most likely. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .

Hopefully it's pretty equivocal now about her place of birth. —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 02:12, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

All Mistaken, or The Mad Couple[edit]

Most sources say James Howard's All Mistaken, or The Mad Couple premiered in 1667. This is unfortunately important to the chronology of "gay couple" roles I have in the article now. Howe says (without any hints that the information may be suspect) that it premiered in 1665 and was the first of Gwyn and Hart's gay couple roles. I note this issue has apparently been raised as early as 1964, in an Oxford journal Notes and Queries (see [1]) but I don't have access to that text. I also note that Wagonheim's Annals of English Drama, 975-1700 says "1665?" and cryptically (to me) "mistakenly given title of The Widow and attributed to Roger Boyle". Anybody have any good info? —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 02:12, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Sorry I took so long. Unfortunately I can't access N&Q that far back either, but the Fount of All Knowledge, The London Stage, 1660—1700, says in its first edition, 1965, that September 1667 was the first recorded performance (known because Pepys went to it). Scrupulous as always, though, the LS points out that there's no indication that that performance was the première. Both Sutherland in your N&Q reference, and Robert D. Hume in a Philological Quarterly article in 1972, have argued that the première was actually in May 1665, and obviously Howe is taking that as proven. I would, too, even without reading these articles, and even though your "most sources" say 1667. You're probably ahead of me by now, but I'll lay it out:
  1. The LS is purveying the best info they had at the time. They're not arguing new info might not come to light.
  2. Both Sutherland and Hume are big, big authorities.
  3. Howe seems to be taking the 1665 date as proven, as you say, and she's a careful scholar also.
The only intriguing bit is that the LS didn't in 1965 utilize N&Q info from 1964. Hang on. No it isn't. Ha. The preface to the LS has this narrative about how long the volumes were in the press, how all the original editors complicated matters by dropping dead, etc. And the preface is dated 1963. No, there's nothing intriguing, you can safely use the May 1665 date. Bishonen | talk 19:15, 23 May 2006 (UTC).
Great! I really appreciate you having a look and weighing in. Stylistically, do you think I'd be being too scrupulous if I noted the issue in a footnote? —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 20:11, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, I got my info from Hume, The Development of English Drama (1976), which probably appears in all my Restoration reference sections, being a book of most excellent usefulness. He does talk as if it's arguable, rather than certain: "Secret Love (February 1667), a very popular play, is the first great example of the split plot mode. I have argued elsewhere, however, that James Howard's All Mistaken; or The Mad Couple was perrformed in the late spriing of 1665, in which case it would be the prototype and have an important influence on the form of Dryden's play" (p. 253). So perhaps the date being somewhat uncertain does deserve a brief mention. As you say, the chronology there is rather important for Nell. Howe may not be the best source to cite at that juncture, since I expect she merely read it in Hume's book.
The phrase "the gay couple" was invented by John Harrington Smith, and is the title of his book on the subject, in case you want to add some more footnote pedantry. Btw, I think Howe is being a little feminist there. It's hardly fair to credit the success of the gay couple entirely to Nell! Compare the more even-handed treatment in, ahem, The Country Wife: "Many critics credit the personalities and skills of Hart and Nell Gwyn with creating, as much as any playwright did, the famous flirting/bantering Restoration comedy couple." Bishonen | talk 20:57, 23 May 2006 (UTC).
I added a caveat to the footnote. I also added a "goes so far as" qualifier to the Howe quote on Nell and the gay couple; I'd hate to lose the quote altogether or spend much more space there on dithering, though. —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 22:55, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Two Names, or The Dumb Question[edit]

So all the plays back then have these XXX, or The YYY names. Just curious: is there any deeper answer to the question "why did they?" than "they just did"? —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 21:30, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Different productions sometimes gave the same (basic) play different titles. When they were published, both titles were used. (Same idea is still around today: a movie is often released under different titles in different countries). After a while, it became a tradition to have the "or" titles, the second of which is, you'll note, generally more descriptive of the action (e.g. Kyd's A Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronymo's Mad Again)... Titles as printed often differed from those used at the time of production: no one ever said "Hey, you want to go down to the Globe tonight to catch The most excellent Historie of the Merchant o Venice with the extreame crueltie of Shylocke the Iewef towards the sayd Merchant, in cutting a iust pound of his flesh: and the obtaying of Portia by the choyse of three chests As it hath beene diuers times acted by the Lord Chamberlaine his Seruants." (I wonder how many such play's titles would have to be listed as spoilers if given in Wikipedia! - Nunh-huh 14:27, 29 May 2006 (UTC)


Following this piece of text I removed from the article

Madam Gwyn was born within the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, and is thought to have lived most of her life in the city. She is believed by most Gwyn biographers to have been low-born; Beauclerk calls this conjecture, based solely on what is known of her later life.

This simply cannot be proven, as 3 cities have claimed to be her birth place, as said 2 sentences on. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:43, 14 February 2009 (UTC)

This is a misunderstanding, which I have reverted. If you read the sentence before the statement you removed, you'll see that "Madam Gwyn" refers to Nell Gwyn's mother, not to Nell Gwyn herself. Bishonen | talk 00:13, 15 February 2009 (UTC).

I also was unsure to whom this that statement referred, Nell or her mother. I think that the first statement belies the fact that the entire paragraph which follows concerns her mother. Made a clarification, please verify if you wish. (talk) 17:08, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Early life[edit]

Oranges sold for sixpence each?[edit]

Did Nell Gwyn really sell her oranges for sixpence each? We need a citation for this. Remember at at the time, tickets for a play at the Globe Theatre cost from 1d for standing, rising to 2d for a bench, or 3d for a bench with a cushion. 6d (sixpence) could get you a seat in a Lord's Room. 1d would buy you a loaf of bread, and 4d would buy your food for the day. So 6d for an orange is expensive. Maybe it was the price that was paid for an orange at the time, allowing for difficult growing in the UK or importing from Spain. But I think that if we are going to say she sold oranges for the equivalent of a day's wages for a skilled rural worker, we should give a citation for that surprising detail. (I got my typical Elizabethan prices from here.)


"Nell is also famous for another remark made to her coachman, who was fighting with another man who had called her a whore. She broke up the fight, saying, "I am a whore. Find something else to fight about."[citation needed]

Thomas C. Smith "Japan's Aristocratic Revolution" in Native Sources of Japanese Industrialization 1750-1920 (U of Cal Press 1988 145-146

" Fielding's story of Nell Gwyenn. Stepping on day from a house where she had made a short visit, the famous actress saw a great mob assemnled and her footman all bloody and dirty. The fellow, being asked by his mistress what had happened, answered, "I have been fighting, madam, with an impudent rascal who called your ladyship a whore." "You blockhead," replied Mrs. Gwyenn, at this rate you must fight every day of your life; why, you fool, all the world knows it." "Do they?" the fellow said in a muttering voice; "They shan't call me a whore's footman for all that." I believe this is from The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding. (talk) 03:09, 16 February 2009 (UTC)Louis Fallert

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Nell Gwyn/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Recommend a peer review to see if it meets A. Might also go for GA --plange 03:04, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

Last edited at 03:04, 27 October 2006 (UTC). Substituted at 01:02, 30 April 2016 (UTC)