Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-zzcdp Total loading time: 0.362 Render date: 2021-12-02T02:16:55.667Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

1 - Revolution, legislation and autonomy

from Part I - Turning points

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

John Stokes
Affiliation:
King's College London
Maggie B. Gale
Affiliation:
University of Manchester
Get access

Summary

Hard by Pell-Mell, lives a wench cal'd Nell, / King Charles the second he kept her, / She hath got a trick to handle his . . . [prick] / But never lays hands on his Scepter. / All matters of State, from her Soul she does hate, / And leave[s] to the Pollitick Bitches, / The Whore's in the right, for 'tis her delight, / To be scratching just where it Itches.” Anonymous lampoon / From the moment the first British professional actress appeared on the London stage in 1661 she became an object of fascination. She was both admired and derided, desired and vilified. The very public sphere in which her craft was practised quickly led to parallels with prostitution in a patriarchal society employing the binaries of private/public, virgin/whore as constructs of femininity. Seventeenth-century society was enthralled by the actress's craft on stage and simultaneously engrossed by the stories surrounding her sexual liaisons off stage. The elision between her public and private identity, the visual spectacle of her acting body on stage and the availability of her sexually active body off stage, reveals a bifocal perspective that has captured the popular imagination, underpinned biographies and histories of the actress and, as the quotation above demonstrates, fuelled a lucrative trade in gossip for over three hundred years. Here, the cultural embodiment of the early actress, Nell Gwynn, is represented in her most famous role: the fun-loving whore of the 'Merry Monarch', Charles II. As one of His Majesty's Servants, Gwynn's public/private performance is focused on the pleasures of the flesh: her interest in and enjoyment of the private body royal, favourably set against interests in the public body politic enjoyed by the king's much-hated aristocratic mistresses, especially his French mistress, Louise de la Kéroualle.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
3
Cited by

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×