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Rex Gordon  •  Link

Moll Davis, the leading coquette of the Duke's company, could not match Nell Gwynn in comedic skills; where Nell was spontaneous and witty, Moll was simply coarse. But she was the better dancer of the two. The second-rate poet Richard Flecknoe, who disapproved of theatre-folk for their loose morals, nevertheless gave Moll credit for her talent:

Who would not think to see thee dance so light,
Thou wert all air? Or else all soul and spirit?

At one performance at court, Moll cavorted so suggestively that not only the queen but also, astonishingly, Lady Castlemaine were affronted and left abruptly. At another court performance, everyone watched the king as he ogled Moll and observed Lady Castlemaine passing the evening in stony-faced silence. By 1668 it was common knowledge that Charles had set Moll up in a house in Suffolk Street, off Pall Mall, and that she had left the Duke's company. In 1673 she presented Charles with his last illegitimate child, a daughter, christened Mary Tudor. Moll enjoyed all the perks associated with her position, including her own carriage and footmen, and regularly importuned the king for more gifts, one of which was a ring said to be worth 600 pounds. She held the king's interest longer than most of his mistresses. When the royal ardor finally cooled Moll was left with a pension of 1,000 pounds a year and an even finer house in St James's Square.

Taken from Derek Wilson, "All the King's Women,(Love, Sex and Politics in the Life of Charles II)" Chapter 9.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



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