Nell

Nell

[nel]
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.
orig. Eleanor Gwyn

(born Feb. 2, 1650, London, Eng.—died Nov. 14, 1687, London) British actress. She was selling oranges at the Drury Lane Theatre when she became the mistress of its leading actor, Charles Hart, who trained her for the stage. She became the leading comedienne of the King's Company (1666–69) and as “pretty, witty Nell” was in demand as a speaker of impudent prologues and epilogues. She became the mistress of Charles II (1669–85) and was popular with the public, who found her high spirits and frank recklessness welcome antidotes to Puritanism.

Learn more about Gwyn, Nell with a free trial on Britannica.com.

orig. Eleanor Gwyn

(born Feb. 2, 1650, London, Eng.—died Nov. 14, 1687, London) British actress. She was selling oranges at the Drury Lane Theatre when she became the mistress of its leading actor, Charles Hart, who trained her for the stage. She became the leading comedienne of the King's Company (1666–69) and as “pretty, witty Nell” was in demand as a speaker of impudent prologues and epilogues. She became the mistress of Charles II (1669–85) and was popular with the public, who found her high spirits and frank recklessness welcome antidotes to Puritanism.

Learn more about Gwyn, Nell with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Nell is a 1994 drama film starring Jodie Foster as a young woman who has to face other people for the first time after being raised by her mother in an isolated cabin. The film was directed by Michael Apted, and was based on Mark Handley's play Idioglossia. The original music score is composed by Mark Isham. Foster was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for her role, and won a Screen Actors Guild Award. The two co-stars, Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson, married the year the film was released.

Tagline: Language beyond understanding. Life beyond words. Discover...

Plot summary

Nell Kellty's mother was paralyzed on one side, which contributed to the oddity of Nell's speech. She and her mother live in an isolated cabin in the mountains of extreme Western North Carolina. Technically, because she lives in a house, cooks her food, wears clothing and performs routine household tasks, she is not a "wild child" or feral child. She seems like one to outsiders at first, because of her terror of strangers, her ritualistic behaviors, and her unintelligible, idiosyncratic language. This language, called Nellish by the doctors studying Nell, is made up of English like phrases that are a blend of stroke-impaired speech and twinspeech, or twin language.

Once Nell’s mother dies, the outside world finally confronts her through Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Lovell (Liam Neeson) and Dr. Paula Olsen (Natasha Richardson). When Lovell goes there to declare her mother dead, Nell screams and fights, but gradually adjusts to his presence as he visits more and more often.

Unsure what to do, he talks to psychologist Paula Olsen in Charlotte, who wants to bring Nell to a laboratory for tests. When Lovell fights this in the courts, he and Olsen are given three months to observe Nell in her own home; when this period of observation ends, the judge will rule on Nell's fate.

Main cast

Actor Role
Jodie Foster Nell
Liam Neeson Dr. Jerome 'Jerry' Lovell
Natasha Richardson Dr. Paula Olsen
Richard Libertini Dr. Alexander 'Al' Paley
Nick Searcy Sheriff Todd Peterson
Jeremy Davies Billy Fisher
Robin Mullins Mary Peterson
O'Neal Compton Don Fontana, Lovell's Attorney
Sean Bridgers Mike Ibarra, the Reporter
Joe Inscoe Judge
Heather M. Bomba
Marianne E. Bomba
Twins
Stephanie Dawn Wood Ruthie Lovell
Nicole Adair autistic child

External links

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